Sunderland RCA v Stockton Town FC
Stockton Town maintained their unbeaten start to the league campaign with a convincing 3-0 win away to Sunderland RCA at Meadow Park on Tuesday night.
Goals from strike duo Sonni Coleman and Mikey Roberts were rounded off by Pete Bulmer’s late third as Town picked up their first away win of the season.
Stockton started the brighter of the two sides and offered a statement of intent inside the game’s first two minutes. Fred Woodhouse impressed on his return to the starting lineup on Saturday and he started encouragingly again. His cross from the left eluded everyone and fell to the advancing Pete Bulmer but the wing back couldn’t keep his half volley down.
Chances weren’t forthcoming as the two sides cancelled each other out in the opening minutes. Michael Arthur denied Andrew O’Neill with a smart stop and Woodhouse fired wide but neither side were able to grasp the ascendency.
That was until the visitors wrestled the advantage on 18 minutes. Sonni Coleman grabbed his first on the campaign away to Hebburn on Saturday and he made it two from two with a well taken finish. Woodhouse was the architect again as his cross found Coleman in the area. The forward connected well and managed to turn his right footed effort beyond the reach of Scott Pocklington for the game’s opener.
Stockton managed the game well upon taking the lead but would go on to endure an uncomfortable five minute spell just after the half hour. Standards slipped momentarily and it almost afforded RCA to get back on terms when some slack Stockton passing in the middle of the Park was pounced upon by Clayton Davis. His smart work created a shooting opportunity for Mark Davison but the forward could only send his effort over Arthur’s crossbar when he should have punished the error.
Stockton weathered the storm and launched a torrent of attacks in the last five minutes of the half, from which they could have taken a more comfortable lead into the interval. First, Roberts displayed excellent vision to cut a cross back behind the onrushing players to Max Craggs. The midfielder needed little invitation to send an effort goalwards from 25 yards out but he dragged his effort just wide of Pocklington’s right hand upright.
Three minutes from half time, the lead should have been doubled. Roberts was the supplier again, this time playing in Coleman. His through ball was perfectly weighted but his strike partner pulled a tame effort wide.
Two minutes later, the barrage wasn’t over and Roberts could have scored himself. An excellent cross from the left from Chris Stockton picked out Coleman in the area. His initial effort was blocked but the rebound fell to the feet of Roberts. He connected well with a right footed shot but was denied by the post with Pocklington well beaten.
Roberts would eventually get his goal six minutes after the restart and it would come gift wrapped from Sunderland. Right back Sam Lilley badly underhit his backpass to Pocklington and the pacy Roberts pounced. He calmly played the ball around the former Darlington and Newton Aycliffe ‘keeper before slotting home his third goal in four league outings.
The visitors were reminded that they were still in a contest a few minutes later and Arthur was called into action. Adam McGuinness played the ball into the feet of O’Neill, the forward turned well and struck a rasping effort from 25 yards that stung the palms of Arthur, who saved well low down to his right to maintain Stockton’s two goal lead.
Roberts and Coleman were causing numerous headaches for the RCA backline with their movement and tenacious work rate and Roberts carved out another excellent chance for his side on the hour. He slid the ball through to Woodhouse, who cut back on his right and fired towards goal but Pocklington saved well at his near post.
The Anchors missed a glorious opportunity to put the game to bed twenty minutes from time. Craggs’ set pieces were, as always, a threat throughout and he landed a stunning corner on the head of Roberts. The forward looked certain to score but glanced his header wide from close range, one he’d like to have back no doubt.
The chances would continue to come for Stockton whilst the back three of Cossavella, in for Tom Coulthard, Risbrough and Nicholson were well drilled throughout and limited the opportunities that Davison and O’Neill saw.
Roberts could have had his second on 77 minutes. He gathered in a beautifully weighted long pass from Nicholson and brought the ball onto his right. He looked to have done everything right as he shot across Pocklington. The imposing stopper was beaten but Roberts’ effort crept wide of the post to maintain RCA’s fading hopes of rescuing something from the game.
Roberts and Coleman were showing a developing understanding and they could have added to their four goals in the last two games ten minutes from time. Some stunning interplay between the two began with Roberts chest controlling a clearance into his partner’s path. Coleman responded by playing Roberts through on the right. He fired goalwards again but this time his effort rose just over the RCA bar.
The points would finally be sealed three minutes from time. Wing backs Bulmer and Stockton offered the Anchors an excellent outlet throughout the contest, demonstrating excellent engines to convert defence into attack and Bulmer would be rewarded. He picked up the ball on the right and cut across the RCA area. He struck a wonderful effort with his weaker left foot that left Pocklington helpless and gave him his first goal for Stockton Town.
The woodwork denied RCA a consolation goal in the final minute. Davison’s fierce shot from the edge of the area had Arthur beaten but bounced down off the crossbar and was not judged to have crossed the line by the officials.
The resounding win was the first on the road for an Anchors side that have negotiated an incredibly difficult opening to the Northern League season without defeat. They’ll be looking to continue their impressive away form on Saturday when they visit a North Shields side, who picked up their first point of the season tonight away to Hebburn tonight.
Full time at Meadow Park: Sunderland RCA 0-3 Stockton Town
Sunderland RCA: (4-4-2) Pocklington; Lilley (Armstrong 71), Hodgson, Preston, Watson; Davis, Elliott, McGuinnes, Moan; Davison, O’Neill.
Subs not used: Limbo, Larkin, Kokoska, McNab.
Stockton Town: (3-5-2) Arthur; Cossavella, Risbrough, Nicholson(c); Bulmer (Carter 88’), Petitjean (N Mulligan 81’), Craggs, Woodhouse (Ward 75’), Stockton; Roberts, Coleman.
Subs not used: Garbutt, D Mulligan.
Goals: Coleman 18’, Roberts 51’, Bulmer 87’.
By Daniel List