The opening day of the new season saw Sunderland RCA FC matched against skillstrainingltd Northern League newcomers Gillford Park FC. A Silver Salver was presented by RCA's captain Gary Shields, to the Gillford captain Mark Butler, to mark the occasion.
The game started in glorious sunshine with RCA taking advantage of the slope and it was they who had the first opportunity after 7 minutes when a cross from Harrison Davies was tipped away for a corner. Steve Stewart sent in the corner for Mark Davison to powerfully head home.
Michael Dickinson had the chance to level 2 minutes later but his shot went well wide. RCA took control of the game in a scintillating period of play which saw Michael Coghlan burst into the box and although his shot was blocked Davies was there to volley home from 10 yards out. Within a minute it was 3-0 when a crossfield ball from Davies found the unmarked Gary Shields who cracked the ball home from 15 yards out.
The crowd were being well entertained with fast attacking football and it was no surprise when Gillford pulled a goal back in the 18th minute when a corner was swung into the box by Mark Butler and the ball was stabbed home from close range by Ian Johnstone.
Davison restored the 3 goal difference after 24 minutes when Shields sent in an inch perfect cross for him to head home his second of the match.
Gillford to their credit continued to battle and were rewarded with a breakaway goal when Matt Read sent the ball clear of his defence to Dickinson whose crossfield pass found Darren Addison free and he finished superbly past the advancing Gary Hoggeth.
At half time Andy Reay replaced RCA's Paul Wardle who was struggling with a hamstring problem.
The second half could never match up to the pace of the first and although both teams had chances to score, notably, Steve Skinner and Dickinson, for Gillford Park, in the opening 3 minutes of the second half and Davison, for RCA, after 50 minutes it was Stewart who sealed the victory with a well taken shot from an immaculate through ball from Scott Richards.
As the game progressed both teams started to cancel each other out and although both teams had half chances to score neither keeper was really tested until the last 5 minutes when Hoggeth had to punch clear a wicked curling cross from Addison and then a shot from Davison from 40 yards caught Shane Williams off his line but went narrowly wide.
Match report and picture from the Sunderand RCA web site at http://www.sunderlandrca.co.uk