'Champions elect': Sunderland RCA boss hails his side after victory over Stockton Town
Sunderland RCA manager Martin Swales believes that his side got the better of the “champions elect” during their 1-0 win over Stockton Town on Tuesday night.
The Anchors looked odds-on to claim the Northern League Division One title last season as they moved 13 points clear at the top of the table with just eight games remaining.
However, they were denied a near-certain promotion when the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic led to the Football Association’s decision to null and void the season.
Michael Dunwell’s side are many people’s favourites to repeat last season’s performance and claim promotion into the Northern Premier League’s second tier.
Swales also tipped the Anchors for success – despite seeing former Middlesbrough youngster Layton Watts grab the only goal of the game as his side claimed a notable win over Stockton at Sunderland LGV Park on Tuesday night.
“In my opinion, they are the champions elect, it’s as simple as that,” Swales told The Echo.
“They are a true footballing side and they are fantastic to watch.
“In my opinion, with the fanbase they have and the setup behind the scenes, they could be the next South Shields.
“So, it’s a really positive result for us and the lads deserved it.
“We asked them to put a shift in, we worked hard, we didn’t let them play and they didn’t like it.
“Sure enough, they got their rewards for a hardworking performance.”
RCA now have the luxury of a free weekend to prepare for Tuesday night’s FA Cup first qualifying round home tie against Northern Premier League North West Division club Prescot Cables.
Swales and his coaching staff will put their squad through their paces during a training session on Friday night – but their focus will be on recovery and assessing injuries ahead of their bid to reach the second qualifying round for the first time since 2017.
He said: “We had a chat after the Stockton game, and I told them they have set a standard for the rest of the season.
“They have to kick on from the win.
“We have another tough game against Prescot Cables in the FA Cup and the preparation couldn’t have worked out any better.
“We had that win last night, then a weekend off, so we will rest, and we hopefully get some players back for that game because we are playing without a recognised centre forward.”