West settle for a draw after missing chances
By Harry Crowe - Reporter
West Auckland Town............1
WEST Auckland Town rued missed chances in the first half as they had to settle for a disgruntled point in their Northern League Division One match against Sunderland RCA.
David Dowson gave West the lead on 36 minutes from the penalty spot before RCA delivered a sucker-punch deep into first half stoppage time courtesy of Dylan Elliott’s low strike.
The result sees West slip to tenth in the Division One table with 15 points from 12 matches, while RCA remain without a win in six games in all competitions.
Gary Forrest named an unchanged side from the emphatic 4-0 win over local rivals Shildon AFC.
In sunny conditions, West started on the front foot and carved out three goal-scoring chances in the opening ten minutes.
Firstly, Liam Hegarty’s long ball towards Dowson was controlled and chested into Adam Mitchell, with Robert Dean coming to RCA’s rescue with a low right-footed save.
Callum Guy was up next to test RCA’s defence and side-footed inches wide of the right-hand post after being played in via Hegarty’s delicate through ball and Amar Purewal – just three minutes later also fired a fraction wide – this time at the opposite side of Dean’s goal.
Martin Swales’ side struggled to get out of their own half as West relentlessly enjoyed the majority of possession and created another attack through Mitchell, who tested Dean from 12 yards with a sizzling strike only to be denied following some exceptional reflexes.
On 34 minutes, Dean proved to be a catalyst to keep the score goalless as West’s attacking trio all linked up well before Purewal saw his effort blocked by the former Marske United veteran.
West’s dominating spell paid off shortly after when Dowson was bundled down inside the area by Aaron Croft. From the resulting spot-kick, the forward stepped up and confidently wrong-footed Dean to grab his sixth goal of the season.
RCA’s first shot of the afternoon didn’t arrive until five minutes before halftime – Stephen Callen found space on the edge of the area and forced Tom Flynn into a key save down to his left-hand side.
Prior to having a relatively quiet first half, Flynn’s ability to remain concentrated was impressive, though there was little the ex-Cowdenbeath shot-stopper could do to prevent RCA levelling proceedings deep into stoppage time when Elliott’s crisp strike flew in the bottom right corner – much to the disappointment in the Auckland dugout.
The goal unsurprisingly lifted RCA’s spirits and they began after the restart with more intent, Joshua Gray, following a defensive mishap, had just Flynn in his sights and was left bemused that he couldn’t take advantage as his effort was superbly parried past the post.
In a rather subdued second half display, West had to weather the storm late on when Elliott struck from distance and saw his shot pushed over the woodwork by the fingertips of Flynn as Forrest’s side remain unbeaten in five matches in all competitions.
Next up – West look to bounce back to winning ways on Wednesday evening when they make the trip to Redcar Athletic in the Mitre Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup – Group E, at 7.45pm.
West Auckland – Flynn, Hegarty, Price, Mitton, Harwood (c), Thompson, Mitchell (Dodds, 66), Greenwood (Francis, 78), Dowson, Purewal (Bell, 62), Guy