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North Shields 2 Sunderland RCA 1 (10/11/2018) – Dogged performance sees Robins claim three points

Two first-half goals from Callum Johnston saw the Robins come out on top against Sunderland RCA in a closely fought contest.

Shields took the lead in the tenth minute when Johnston raced onto a perfectly weighted through ball before beating the keeper at his near post .

The former Gateshead striker doubled the lead just before the break when he beat the offside trap before finishing past the onrushing keeper.

The visitors got back into the game shortly after the restart when Mark Davidson converted from close range.

However, some dogged Shields defending ensured the hosts a well-deserved victory.

The first chance of the game came in the fourth minute when Curtis Coppen headed narrowly over at the back post, following a deep swinging corner.

Three minutes later and the visitors came within inches of taking the lead only for Greg Purvis to deny RCA with a fantastic save before the ball was ultimately cleared.

However, the hosts deservedly took the lead when an astounding cross from Paul Robinson released Johnston through on goal; leaving the youngster to slot it past Dimitrios Tsapalos in the tenth minute.

Not wanting to let the Robins run wild with the game, RCA upped the tempo and in the 18th minute, a volley from the edge of the box by Colin Larkin flew over the crossbar.

As the rain started to come down, both teams struggled to create many clear cut opportunities. However, in the 35th minute, the visitors came within inches once again of scoring but another brilliant save from Greg Purvis kept the Shields lead intact.

Having survived the RCA pressure, the Robins began to press and with seconds left in the first half, they were able to double their advantage when a clever pass from Gary Ormston released Johnston through on goal once again. Just like the first time, he made no mistake in beating the on-loan RCA keeper.

Whatever Martin Swailes had said to his RCA side at the break must have done the trick as only shortly after the restart, a scramble in the Robins box gave Mark Davison a easy shot which he converted past Purvis.

Despite this setback, the Robins still came flooding forwards and after an excellent Bobby Taylor run and pass in the 58th minute, Johnston was once again given the freedom of the box to have a shot. Unfortunatly, Tsapalos, who is on loan from Morpeth Town, spread himself well to block the shot.

The combination of Taylor and Johnston was causing the RCA defence no end of trouble and in the 60th minute, Taylor’s shot from the angle was hooked across the face of goal. Johnston who was at the back post, collected the ball before trying his luck from close range, however, Tsapalos made a great recovering save to deny the Robins a third goal.

This save seemed to spur the visitors on but if Tsapalos was having a decent game, Purvis was having an outstanding one as his excellent double save in the 63rd minute helped to frustrate the RCA forwards even more.

With time running out the visitors turned the screw once again and in the 73rd minute, a shot at the back post from a RCA attacker flew narrowly over the crossbar.

With only nine minutes left in the game, Thomas McAloon should have done better with his effort but he seemed to snatch at the ball giving Purvis the simple task of parrying the ball to safety.

The Robins could have put the game to bed in added time when Taylor once again caused havok amongst the tiring RCA defence, however, Tsapalos was on hand once again to give his side the slimmest of hopes.

Thankfully for the Robins, they were able to hold on to a victory which lifts them to fourth place in the Ebac Northern League Division One table.

Final Score: North Shields 2 Sunderland RCA 1

Attendance: 241

Referee: Mr Stu Kyle

North Shields Starting Eleven: Purvis, Donnison, Spooner, Forster (Hayhurst 38), Coppen, Hughes (c), Taylor, Ormston, Johnston (McGeoch 68), Carr, Robinson (McRoberts 80)

Yellow Cards: Ormston 70, Carr 90

Unused Substitutes: McManus, McNamara

Sunderland RCA Starting Eleven: Tsapalos, McNab, Davis, Preston, Swansbury (c), Hodgson, Charlton (McAloon 71), O’Neill, Davison, Moan (Davis 16), Larkin

Yellow Cards: Swansbury 2

Unused Substitutes: Kyle Davis, Sam Lilley, Andreas Kokosa