Another of the Ebac Northern League Division 1′s top sides visit the Hebburn Sports & Social Ground on Saturday when Sunderland RCA, currently sitting in fourth place, travel up the A19.
RCA will be looking to maintain their fine away form this season, having won three and drawn one of their four away games played so far.
The Hornets will be looking to for their first win at home in the league having lost three and drawn one of their fours games played so far, though they did comprehensively defeat a competitive Darlington side at the Hebburn Sports Grounds in a Durham Challenge Cup tie and enjoy a 100% away record from their five games on the road. The need to transfer that form to their home ground is paramount to achieve that first home league win.
After conceding a late goal in Tuesday’s defeat against Bedlington – the second of the season conceded in the final ten-seconds of injury time after Newcastle Benfield’s late equaliser – the hosts will be looking to prove a point and show that as well as competing against the top sides, they can go one better and beat them.
All of this is in manager Paul Bennett’s mind who in the build-up to the game said: “After pushing Bedlington all the way to injury time on Tuesday, the players now realise they are good enough to compete in this league. They do, however, have to compete and concentrate until the 90 plus minutes are up as we have now lost 4 points in injury time”.
Bennett also recognises that his seventh placed side face “another hard game” against RCA.
The visitors had won three league games on the bounce having defeated Marske United home and away along an away win at Shildon before losing last week at home against Team Northumbria.
The Northern Echo report that the visitors have “several players out injured, while recent signing, striker Josh Home-Jackson is unavailable”. Having already faced Hebburn once this season as part of the Newton Aycliffe side defeated 4-1, striker Gavin Barton is expected to lead the RCA forward line. Barton played against the Hornets last season when Hebburn travelled over to Gillford Park and returned with maximum points.
After making a return to action for the first time since August’s Newton Aycliffe match, forward Liam McBryde will be assessed before kick-off to ascertain his fitness with the Hebburn Hitman itching to get back involved and continue his fine form over the previous year.
Lee Harrison is also edging towards a return after a long injury lay-off while Az Croft and Chris Jewels face fitness tests. Jeff Forsyth returns to the squad after missing the midweek match due to work commitments.
The game also marks the final match at Hebburn for Mark Rasmussen who moves to Australia next week. Rasmussen has said that “it will be an emotional day for me but the only important thing is to get three points”.
Paul Bennett, who has known Rasmussen for a number of years before bringing him to the club, says of the player: “We say goodbye to Razza, who joined us in the summer and then due to the knowledge of him leaving, hasn’t played a big a part as his ability should have let him. We were mindful of that and Razza, to his credit, has been as professional and dedicated as any player that has played for me over the last few years. We wish him well in the future and hopefully we can give him three points and then the mother of all celebrations afterwards with a squad night out in Newcastle.”
Hebburn will be hoping for a far bigger crowd than their lowest over the past nine-years when only 19 people attended a Northern League Division 2 match against Kennek RCA – who would later change their name to Sunderland RCA – during the 2003-04 season.
Kick-off is at 3pm and it’s £5 for adults and £3 concessions and the Manchester City vs Sunderland match will be live on television in the bar starting at 12.45pm. There’s also a special Mark Rasmussen match programme produced for the game.