Three Northern League teams are in today’s draw for the fifth round of the Buildbase FA Vase – but only Sunderland RCA are definitely through to the last 16.
The gallant Wearsiders progressed to the fifth round for the second successive year with a deserved victory at AFC Mansfield on Saturday.
But it was a close call before Martin Swales’ side emerged 1-0 winners against their Northern Counties East League hosts.
RCA had the best of the first half, but had to settle for a single-goal advantage,
Not for the first time, clinical striker John Butler was the matchwinner. With half-time looming, Davis’s throw was played on for Michael Charlton, whose ball over the defenders and Butler produced a brilliant, ferocious finish from 10 yards which gave Mansfield’s goalkeeper Jason White no chance.
RCA survived a couple of penalty appeals and then had a great chance to seal victory in the second half, when Butler uncharacteristically fired over the top from close range after Charlton’s shot was blocked.
Although the hosts mounted pressure, especially in the later stages, RCA stood tall to see out the win, with James Armstrong producing a man-of-the-match performance.
RCA were knocked out at the last-16 stage last season, following an epic Meadow Park tie with Bristol Manor Farm which went to extra time, but Swales will hope to keep the Wembley dream alive longer this season.
The draw will take place at lunchtime.
South Shields and Morpeth Town are also in today’s hat after their tie at Mariners Park was abandoned because of a floodlight failure with only nine minutes remaining.
Morpeth were two goals ahead and had a man advantage in an explosive game and were fuming after the lights went out, seconds after Liam Henderson’s stunning 20-yarder had extended their lead to 4-2.
Shields dominated most of the first half after taking a fifth-minute lead through the on-form David Foley.
It was against the run of play when Sean Taylor levelled and Morpeth were given a boost when former Sunderland star Julio Arca was sent off for a second bookable offence.
His dismissal left the Mariners to play the entire second half with 10 men, but they took the lead for a second time courtesy of Michael Richardson.
From then on though, it was all Morpeth. Michael Turner levelled and Keith Graydon made it 3-2 with a tremendous 25-yard drive. Then came the drama, with Henderson’s goal and the floodlights going out, though electricity remained on in the bar.
The FA must decide what happens now, with a replay of the match the likeliest outcome.
Shildon saw their Vase dreams dashed by impressive visitors Atherton Collieries.
Amar Purewal had the Railwaymen ahead, but Ben Hardcastle, Mark Battersby, Dan Lafferty and Jordan Cover turned it around as Atherton ran out 4-1 winners.
Billingham Town also went out to Cleethorpes Town, who stormed into an early two-goal lead courtesy of Andy Taylor and Brodie Robertson.
Chris Dickinson threw the Teessiders a lifeline, but the visitors held on to win 2-1.