Northern League: Sunderland RCA make excellent point in a thriller to hit Morpeth’s title push

Seaham Red Star (red/white) take on West Auckland last weekend. Picture by Kevin Brady
Seaham Red Star (red/white) take on West Auckland last weekend. Picture by Kevin Brady
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Sunderland RCA earned an excellent point at Morpeth Town last night, but it could have been better, as they led 2-0.

Stephen Callen was denied by keeper Karl Dryden before RCA did go ahead in the 13th minute, when Dylan Elliott ran free to score.

Keith Finch denied Liam Henderson an equaliser when he was clean through on goal, getting down well to save.

On the stroke of half-time, RCA went 2-0 up as Colin Larkin broke free and rounded Dryden to net.

On 61 minutes, Morpeth were back in it with Joe Walton’s deflected effort, and Henderson smashed in a beauty from 25 yard to level, five minutes later.

Sean Taylor headed Morpeth in front on 71 minutes, but RCA rallied for a point as Callen was fouled in the box and Larkin makes no mistake from the penalty spot to make it 3-3.

RCA, sitting fifth, welcome Guisborough Town to Meadow Park, but miss injured pair Reece Noble and Luke Richardson. Manager Martin Swales said: “Goalkeeper Scott Pocklington will be back in the team, as will Clayton Davis and Michael Charlton.

“Last time we faced Guisborough, we came away 4-3 winners in a topsy-turvy game.

“We’re having a good run of form and we hope to continue this and pick up some points to move us up to fourth, but we expect a tough game against a young, fit side.”

Seaham Red Star manager Craig Lynch welcomes a few players back for tomorrow’s big game at home to Dunston UTS. Red Star stayed four points above the drop zone following last night’s 1-0 defeat at Marske United.

They put up a good fight against the title hopefuls but succumbed to Adam Wheatley’s back-post header from a corner right on half-time.

Lynch said: “Bradley Staunch returns after completing a three-match suspension and Carl Lawson, Luke Bailey, Tommy Scott and Lee Chapman should be available following injuries and work commitments.

“At Newton Aycliffe on Monday night (1-1 draw), I thought we played really well in the first half, but, for some reason at the minute, we’re coming out (after the break) and we’re changing the game plan a bit. I don’t know why.

“We’ve steadied the ship a bit following four straight losses. We didn’t deserve to lose against West Auckland twice either.”

Dunston have ruled out Kelvin Thear and Matteo Faiola with injuries, but Jack Elliott returns after being cup-tied in last night’s Durham Challenge Cup Final.

Ryhope CW aim to complete a double at home to Bishop Auckland.

Boss Gary Pearson said: “Danni Lay will return to the squad after serving a suspension. Also back will be Christopher Trewick, Stephen Ramsey and Richard Paxton, who have missed games due to work commitments.”

Josh Home-Jackson and Jack Winship remain out injured. Pearson added: “We have already beaten Bishop Auckland away, so are now looking to do the double over them.

“Although they’re in relegation trouble, we can’t take pity on them.

“We have no feelings for any team in the league, apart from ourselves, and we need to do what matters for us, to hopefully take all three points.

“We’ve had a great run of form recently, which has faltered slightly over the last two games, but we home to come back fighting.”

Third-top West Auckland are at home to Whitley Bay.

Manager Gary Forrest said: “We have a full strength squad to choose from, apart from Ben Wood who is injured. We need to win to consolidate third place, then after that we will concentrate on next season.”

Consett, in seventh, go to Newton Aycliffe.

Boss Mark Eccles said: “We should have a fully fit squad, apart from Dan Hawkins and Ross Coombe, who are unavailable.

“I hope that as we approach the end of the season. The lads can put in good performances and pick up some points.”

Aycliffe beat Whitley Bay 1-0 last night, with a superb, early winner from Craig Hutchinson.

Fourth-top Shildon head to Newcastle Benfield for a rapid return, having beaten them.

Shildon beaten them 2-1 at home last night, coming from behind, with Billy Greulich-Smith striking twice after Scott McCarthy put the visitors ahead.

Relegated Billingham Synthonia are away to title hopefuls Marske.

Synthonia, who drew 1-1 at Ryhope CW in midweek, have keeper James Dawson and captain Tom Gavin back.

Secretary Graham Craggs said: “Despite us having been relegated for some time, the players remain in good spirits and keep giving 100% effort.”

Ashington host North Shields without injured goalkeeper Conor Grant and defender Ryan Bell, but midfielder Kyle Downey returns.

Third-bottom Jarrow Roofing are desperate for safety points at home to Team Northumbria, while fourth-bottom Penrith entertain FA Vase finalists Stockton Town.