Northern League: RCA boss backs decision to abandon Benfield match, even though his side were leading

Sunderland RCA boss Martin Swales admitted that the right decision was made to abandon Saturday's Ebac Northern League First Division game at Newcastle Benfield.

Monday, 16th January 2017, 10:30 am
Sunderland RCA boss Martin Swales

And that’s despite the fact that his side were leading at the time.

Frozen pitches led to a decimation of the league programme, with thick snow forcing off Durham City’s Second Division game at their Consett home.

RCA’s First Division game away to Benfield did start, however it was abandoned by referee Lucy Oliver after 22 minutes, as the pitch was becoming “very slippery.”

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However, there was some decent early action in the game. In the very first minute, Benfield’s John Campbell should have done better with his effort, but somehow he managed to shoot wide, when it seemed easier to score.

Shortly after that, Campbell collected a long ball and his accurate pass allowed Scott McCarthy a shot on goal, but RCA goalkeeper Jonathan Carmichael saved it well.

Against the early run of play, RCA took a fifth-minute lead, when a defensive mix-up between Lewis Scorgie and Matthew Cornish, allowed Colin Larkin to feed Stephen Callen, who beat goalkeeper Andrew Grainger.

Five minutes later, the Meadow Park outfit should have doubled their lead, following a neat team move which ended up with Michael Charlton chipping keeper Grainger, but the ball hit the post and somehow and, fortunately for Benfield, rebounded into the arms of the keeper.

After 22 minutes, the referee called over the two captains and the match was abandoned, when it was deemed the ground was unfit.

Swales said the “right decision” was made, while Benfield manager Mark Convery commented: “The referee started the game, but it was played at a pedestrian pace on a slippery pitch.

“We should have been 2-0 up early on, but RCA took the lead and almost doubled their score soon after.”

“After 10 minutes, the referee re-assessed and suggested the teams play on. After 22 minutes, with the temperature dropping, there was no chance of the pitch thawing out and the referee abandoned the game.”

There was hope that the Division One clash of Ryhope CW and Chester-le-Street could go ahead after passing an early pitch inspection, but the match referee called the game off close to kick-off time.

Only two matches survived the weather in the Second Division and only at the last minute was the Billingham Town-Heaton Stannington game called off, by the match referee.

Stockton Town hammered third-bottom Crook Town, 7-0 to move six points clear at the top, albeit having played three more games than nearest rivals Team Northumbria.

Stockton needed just four minutes to make the breakthrough, when Chris Dunwell headed home following a corner by man of the match Max Craggs.

Crook, under new boss Wilf Constantine for the first time, survived until the 34th minute, when Craggs made it 2-0, curling in a 20-yard direct free kick over the wall and into the corner of the net, giving goalkeeper Niall Harrison no chance.

Right on half-time, Kevin Hayes was adjudged to have been brought down in the box and Kallum Hannah stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick.

After a quiet start to the second half, Stockton began to get into their stride again and it was 4-0 on 67 minutes, when substitute Joe Scaife-Wheatley’s shot was saved by Harrison, but he followed up to score from the rebound.

Sub Sonni Coleman headed in at the far post and scored his second of the game from close range to make it 6-0.

Stockton’s third sub also netted, Joe Posthill scoring in the 91st minute.

Blyth Town remain in the hunt for promotion after winning 3-2 at Northallerton Town.

Liam Gillesphey and Ian Herron had the visitors two up, but Northallerton were a different team in the second half and fought back well, levelling with efforts from Stuart Owen and sub Mark Sims.

But Zak Atkinson responded to hit Blyth’s winner.