FOLLOWING three consecutive defeats, Sunderland RCA bounced back to winning form when they ended Durham City’s impressive six-match winning sequence in last night’s Durham Challenge Cup First Round tie at New Ferens Park, writes MALCOLM PRATT.
Fortunes ebbed and flowed during a thrill-a-minute game which looked like being decided on penalties before Neil Hixon’s men clinched a 4-3 victory.
The first of the seven goals didn’t arrive until the stroke of half time. Towards the interval RCA pressed and City goalkeeper James Winter made a wonderful double save from Ian Maddison and Andrew Jennings.
Winter though stretched in vain as a James Oates’ header gave the Wearsiders an interval advantage.
Two minutes into the second half, Stephen Thompson converted a penalty awarded for a handling offence.
City’s Billy Greulich-Smith struck the crossbar before RCA scored twice in four minutes.
Brian Stewart ran unchallenged and tucked the ball into the net and almost immediately he was again on target.
City hit back for Gary Brown to pounce from close-range and five minutes from the end of normal time Amar Purewal headed in a good cross from Thompson.
With only two minutes remaining and a penalty shoot-out looking likely, substitute Gary Shields came up trumps for the Wearsiders, clinching an excellent victory with a low drive into the bottom corner.
Seaham Red Star’s form has suddenly taken off. After scoring six times at the weekend they hit another four goals against Peterlee Town.
Michael Turnbull drove wide of goalkeeper Russell Blenkinsop from 25 yards and just before the interval, Kevin Gordon volleyed in at the far post.
There was no way back as Michael McEwan delivered a good corner which was headed home by Craig McManus. Calvin Gowland completed an emphatic 4-0 win.
Dunston UTS also went through at home to Willington. Andrew Bulford converted a 12th-minute penalty awarded after Michael Dixon had been brought down but it was not until the 65th minute that the Wearside League side conceded a second goal.
Bulford was again the marksman, beating the outstanding Chris Sawyer from close-range and just before the end Tom Iley ended Willington’s hopes.
In-form Jamie Owens scored another hat-trick leading Billingham Town to a 4-1 win over Darlington RA.
Whitley Bay moved ahead of Sunderland RCA into third place in the STL Northern League First Division with a 2-0 win against Tow Law.
A Robbie Dale corner was headed on by Phil Bell to Chris Reid who blasted the ball into the net through a crowded goalmouth after 26 minutes.
The Lawyers, who defeated RCA at the weekend, look an improved side and caused Bay some anxious moments until Paul Chow lobbed goalkeeper Steven Robinson 12 minutes from time.