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Dunston UTS vs Sunderland RCA.
Report by: Danny Whalen.

Saturday 12th January 2019.

Ebac Northern League – First Division.

Attendance 214

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Sunderland RCA have taken all three points on their previous two league visits to the UTS Stadium. Dunston will be looking to complete the double over RCA this season, having won the corresponding fixture between the two sides in a 3-2 victory at Meadow Park back in August.

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RCA are currently 9th in The Ebac 1st Division, whilst Dunston have dropped down to 3rd in the table following 2 defeats in their last 2 games. Consett currently occupy 1st position, 3 points ahead of Dunston, although Dunston do have a game in hand. Bishop Auckland moved up to second with a 3-2 away win on Wednesday night against Newton Aycliffe, however; going into today's game, Dunston currently have 3 games in hand on Bishops who are ahead by two points. Bishop Auckland had ended Dunston’s impressive unbeaten league run this season with a dogged 1-0 win at the UTS Stadium on the 29th December; Bishops then followed up by taking a point away at Consett.

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Dunston’s unbeaten league away record was ended last weekend in a surprise 2-3 loss away to Whitley Bay.

The Ebac 1st Division has now turned into a 3 horse race.

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Dunston are in search of their first League win of 2019 and go into today's game on the back of an impressive 3-0 home win over Hebburn Town in The Durham Challenge Cup 2nd round during midweek, courtesy of a Scott Heslop hat-trick.

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Both Liam Thear and Michael Hall remain unavailable for Dunston due to injuries. Dan Capewell comes back into the starting eleven, replacing the injured Craig Scott at centre half. Cieran Jackson returns to the match day squad, the youngster on loan from Spennymoor Town was unavailable in the last game due to being cup tied. Jake Stafford completes his 3 match suspension and replaces Aiden Haley in the middle of the park. Liam Marrs comes in for Callum Elliott at right back, both Haley and Elliott move to the bench. Karl Dryden replaces Niall Harrison in goal with the former currently injured. Dunston which means Dunston will be without a substitute keeper for this match; Callum Little is now unavailable for the foreseeable future due to work commitments.

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RCA come into today's game following a devastating 1-0 defeat at home to West Auckland in The FA Vase, a last minute goal from Wests' Lewis Dodds deep in to extra time, ending the home sides Wembley dream.

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Dunston UTS: (4-4-2) K.Dryden, L.Marrs, D.Halliday(C), J.Stafford, A.Grant-Soulsby, D.Capewell, J.Elliott

(C.Jackson), M.Pearson, M.Fitzpatrick, S.Heslop, L.Brooks (J.Nellis) Subs not used: C.Elliott, A.Haley.

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Sunderland RCA: (4-4-2) S.Pocklington, S.Lilley (M.Davison), J.Lavery, R.Preston, G.Swansbury(C), C.Hodgson, M.Charlton (A.Croft), L.Page, N.O'Neill, C.Larkin, T.McAloon. Subs not used: G.Tsapalos, K.Davis, D.Moan.

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On a brisk January afternoon, with a strong wind behind them, Dunston elect to kick off towards the car-park end. In horse racing terms, the pitch could be described as good to soft. The first minute of the game presents Mark Fitzpatrick with an early opportunity, following a long ball down the right hand side from Liam Marrs, his shot sails over the bar. RCA go up the other end, floating in a cross which is flapped away by Karl Dryden and then cleared up-field by a defender. Jack Elliott miss hits a shot after 5 minutes with the first short phase of the game going end to end.

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The early exchanges of the game see the ball spend a lot of time in the air as both sides are forced to contest with a strong wind. A ball through from the lively looking Jack Elliott, in a wide position, deceives Fitzpatrick at the back post. Scott Heslop hits a shot straight at RCA keeper Scott Pocklington who manages to make a comfortable save. On 15 minutes Fitzpatrick has the ball in the back of the net; as RCA are unable clear their lines, a well taken right footed half volley finds its way past Pocklington, following some good play between Dan Halliday and Jack Elliott down the left hand side resulting in a corner. Unfortunately for Dunston the officials deemed his fine effort to be off-side. On 17 minutes RCA's Luke Page plays a neat ball from the middle of the park out wide to Michael Charlton, his cross aimed for Colin Larkin but collected by Dryden to avert the danger.

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On 19 minutes Liam Brooks was forced from the field of play due to injury following a collision with an opponent, Jordan Nellis replaces Brooks on the left wing. The lengthy stoppage allowing players to take a breather on what has been a fast and frenetic opening to the game. Thomas McAloon for RCA makes a good run, Dunston cutting the ball out , veteran Irish centre forward Colin Larkin putting the resulting shot wide. A foul by Dunston Captain Dan Halliday on the former Mansfield Town player Larkin results in a free kick on the left had side of the 18 yard box. The resulting free kick rattles the crossbar from an excellently taken left footed free kick from RCA left back Jordan Lavery.

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A Dan Halliday ball down the left poses problems for RCA, a foul results in a free kick which is taken by Jack Elliott, Fitzpatrick cutting the ball back to Heslop who sees his shot blocked. As the ball is moved out to the other end a clash of heads between Dan Capewell and RCA's Nathan O'Neill brings a further halt to the game.

A long punt downfield from RCA keeper Pocklington is then flicked on to Larkin out the right hand side, his first time shot cannoning off the right post before going out for a goal kick. The game ebbs back and forth. Pearson fouls RCA's Ross Preston, Lavery's resulting free kick from the left hand side swings viciously and narrowly misses Dryden's goal.

In the dying embers of the 1st half Nellis switches wings with Jack Elliott, the impact is instant. Nellis plays a great ball into the box to Fitzpatrick on the left hand side, who seems to pause for the shot, his left foot shot is drilled diagonally towards the RCA goal, the shot seems to beat the keeper, as defenders scramble to clear the danger, Scott Heslop is on hand to slide in and bundle the ball into the back of the net. Moments later the Referee blows for half time as Dunston go into half time leading one nil, in what has been a very competitive and evenly contested first half.

Neither side make changes at half times. RCA kick off with the strong wind behind them and look to take full advantage of the conditions early on. Karl Dryden tips over from Lavery, whose long ball into the box morphs into an audacious long range shot from from inside his own half, only for the Referee to award a goal kick. The shot ably assisted by the wind which continues to blow directly towards the car park end. Jack Elliott floats a ball into the box only for the keeper to loft the ball up the other end; Dan Halliday closes down well and the ball goes out for corner. The resulting corner from Lavery sees the ball drop to Ross Preston who skews his shot wide of Dryden's left hand post. Michael Pearson picks up a yellow card with 51 minutes on the clock for a foul on a RCA player.

On 54 minutes Dan Capewell clears a ball, which rather than going out for a throw in, skids off his boot for a corner. Jordan Lavery, who has looked dangerous from set pieces throughout the game, whips in a left footed ball from the right corner flag, the ball swings with the wind behind it, cutting through the gap between Dunston's keeper and defenders, before hitting the left hand post and turning over the line. A ball more familiar to to a Sub-Continental Cricket pitch than the hallowed turf of Dunston. On the balance of play, RCA deserve their equalizer.

Dunston try to lift themselves after RCA's start to the second half. Jack Elliott picks up a loose ball and plays a pass into Heslop who in turn moves the ball onto Nellis on the left, Nellis shows good skill to beat the RCA full back before flashing his shot just wide of the goal. Both Nellis and Elliott  are industrious for Dunston down the flanks; an Elliott free kick is flapped by Pocklington in the RCA goal. Moments later a ball out wide from Elliott sees Nellis flash the ball across the goal, only to be judged offside.

RCA make changes, Martin Swales in The RCA dugout, electing to bring on Aaron Croft and Mark Davison for Michael Charlton and Sam Lilley, both of whom are attacking players, as RCA look to push ahead in the game. Dunston make a change on 68 minutes, Chris Swailes choosing to bring on Cieran Jackson, the youngster currently on loan from Spennymoor Town, for Jack Elliott who has ran himself into the ground are looked a threat throughout the game.

Within the last 10 minutes of the game, RCA have looked the more dangerous; a Dan Halliday sliding clearance averting any chance of RCA taking the lead.

With 70 minutes on the clock, Fitzpatrick for Dunston plays a good ball into Heslop, his flick on results in a throw in next to the by-line, having deflected off an RCA player. From the throw in Nellis shows neat skills to beat his marker, his shot is fumbled by Pocklington. Fitzpatrick is on hand quickly to knock the ball into the bottom right corner, only for his effort to be adjudged off-side for the second time in the game. I'm using artistic license to say that the Dunston Supporters politely questioned the judgement of the match Officials.

On 78 minutes,  following some good build play, RCA substitute Mark Davison rattles a curling shot off the Dunston woodwork from the edge of the D, with Dryden routed to the spot. On 79 minutes RCA hit a shot off the outside of the left stanchion.

Fitzpatrick has his shot saved up at the other end following a strong tackle in the middle of the park from Michael Pearson who, along with Jake Stafford, has worked tirelessly throughout, constantly looking to break up play and cut out RCA's passing. Some neet skills from youngster Jackson allows Nellis to play a ball across for Fitzpatrick, whose shot results in an RCA defender knocking the ball over the goal line on 83 minutes. Dunston lead 2-1. 

Certainly not for the first time this season, Karl Dryden pulls off an outstanding match winning save, getting down low at his near post to turn the ball away from a powerful header at point blank range from 5 yards out, he dives down athletically to tip the ball out for a corner. The save is met with rapturous applause from the home crowd.  

RCA push everything at Dunston UTS as they go in search of an equalizer. RCA force a corner on 88 minutes,  sending up the keeper and tall centre half Greg Swansbury, fortunately the effort comes to nothing. Now into stoppage time and Nellis comes out on top following a strong tackle, he runs the ball out into the corner, attempting to shut the game down.Two minutes later RCA's Luke Page reacts to a Nellis tackle, both players cautioned by the referee. In the dying seconds Pocklington comes up for the free kick, the resulting header goes over, the Referee blows for full time as Dunston UTS take all 3 points and secure their first home league win of 2019.

Today's results see Dunston move up to 2nd in The Ebac Northern League Division 1. With Consett only managing to gain a 2-2 draw away to second bottom Whickham,  The Steelmen salvaging a point up at The Glebe through an 84th minute equalizer from former FA Vase winning Dunston player Danny Craggs. Bishops were without a game this weekend, meaning Dunston are now two points ahead of them with two games in hand. Dunston are now one point behind Consett with a game in hand on the current leaders.

Full time score Dunston UTS - 2 (S.Heslop 45+2' Own Goal 83'). Sunderland RCA - 1 (J.Lavery 56').

Man of the match:  Each player put in a solid performance. The game required workmanlike performances across the team which was delivered in order to grind out a result against a difficult  opposition in a game which could've gone either way. Elliot and Nellis worked well down both flanks, Jake Stafford and Pearson had to grind out and battle in the middle in a game were the ball spent large proportions of the time in the air. Heslop and Fitzpatrick battled away in front and the back four remained solid in order to repel a strong RCA forward line. Drydens' outstanding save at the end of the game ensured the full three points for the home side.

All that into account, Dunston Capt Dan Halliday was solid in this game, ensuring that the threat down the right hand side of the pitch was largely nullified and brought Jack Elliott and Jordan Nellis into the game on numerous occasions.  

Referee.. Glen Hart (Darlington)

 


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