Morpeth Town 3-3 Sunderland RCA
A pulsating game ended in a draw as Morpeth Town and Sunderland RCA shared six goals in a thriller at Craik Park.
Morpeth were trailing as early as the 13th minute when Dylan Elliott put the visitors in front. Bad turned to worse when Colin Larkin scored on the stroke of half-time. But a spirited second half showing saw Town storm back through an own goal just after the hour mark before Liam Henderson levelled on 66 minutes. The comeback was completed on 71 minutes when Sean Taylor nodded in a Ben Sayer corner for a third goal in 10 minutes. That lead, though, lasted five minutes as Larkin registered again from the penalty spot.
Morpeth hearts were in mouths on seven minutes when Stephen Callen latched on to a through ball to race clear of the defence. Thankfully for Town, Karl Dryden was quick off his line to block Callen’s shot with his legs.
It was a warning sign for the hosts and they failed to heed it, falling behind on 13 minutes as Elliott raced in behind a static back-four to easily slot the ball between the legs of Dryden.
Far from their fluent best, Morpeth were trying to establish themselves in the game. There were signs of this after the goal, none more so than when Sayer played a 25th minute one-two with Henderson before lashing a low strike inches past the post.
If they felt aggrieved not to be level on that occasion, then they would have felt more so in the 34th minute when Henderson raced clear after dispossessing a Sunderland defender. With only the keeper to beat, the striker tried to round Keith Finch, but found the stopper in fine form as he plucked the ball off the toes of the forward.
Defensively, Morpeth were struggling to contain the runs from deep, with the visitors getting in behind all too frequently and causing plenty of problems. That lead to RCA’s second of the game on the stroke of half-time.
Larkin was the man to race clear on this occasion, rounding Dryden before slotting easily into an empty net. It left Town with a mountain to climb in the second half meaning a quick start was required.
But it failed to materialise and Sunderland should have extended their lead on 53 minutes when Larkin latched on to an innocuous ball over the top. With the defence chasing back, Larkin rounded Dryden but he sent his shot wide.
Searching for a spark from someone, it took terrific build-up play in the 61st minute to reduce the deficit. A mixture of Sayer, Stephen Elliott and Henderson combined before the latter sent a low cross to the back-post. Desperately trying to clear, the RCA defence could only bundle the ball into their own net.
In a frantic period of the game, Town found themselves level five minutes later courtesy of a blistering Henderson effort. Setting his sights 25 yards out, the striker smashed an unstoppable low drive into the corner to equalise.
The turnaround was then completed in thrilling fashion by Taylor, who stooped to head home from close-range as Morpeth scored three in 10 minutes.
More drama was to follow as RCA scored the sixth goal of the game; Larkin was the man to net from the spot after Callen was sent tumbling in the area by Danny Carson.
With the seconds counting down, there were chances at both ends, but neither side could find a winner as an enthralling game ended all-square.