Buoyant Ryhope on a high

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RYHOPE CW, six points behind Second Division leaders Crook Town with a game in hand, go into tomorrow’s Ebac Northern League home game against Washington in buoyant mood following a double boost.

Last Saturday, they became the first of the 46 sides to score 100 goals and, on Tuesday, the Wearsiders beat Hebburn Town in the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup.

Manager Martin Swales enthused: “I could not have asked for a better display against Hebburn in our first ever ENL cup-tie.

“I thought we were the better side throughout and I was particularly pleased with our fitness levels since it was only the second time we had played in a month.

“We are all looking forward to playing at Whitley Bay in the next round, but before then we have some important league games coming up.”

Although Swales welcomes the return of goalkeeper Chris Rookes and Craig Marron, James Cook is a definitely absentee. He could also be without Michael Charlton, who had to be substituted during the first half of Tuesday’s cup-tie.

Washington are seriously depleted with seven players unavailable.

To compound matters, Michael Rush and Daniel Robinson are injured and Lee Hamilton and Matthew Wade will need late fitness checks. Fortunately, Ross Atkinson and Nicky Evans are back.

“It’s a nice, easy one,” quipped manager Richie Latimer. “Seriously, it’s going to be extremely difficult, but hopefully we’ll still get out a decent squad.”

Following a couple of hiccups recently, Seaham Red Star are looking to bounce back at lowly Brandon United, where they will definitely be missing Chris Goss. Carl Thorpe’s fitness is another concern.

Birtley Town, in the bottom six, go to Thornaby, who are just two places above them.

Boss Scott Oliver observed that his side is six points above the relegation trap door, but believes they are improving.

He said: “I thought we played very well against Crook Town. It’s important we don’t lose tomorrow and with games coming up with sides close to us, we need to put some points on the board.”

Birtley’s chances on Teesside are boosted with the inclusion of Dan Smith and Scott Garrett.

Chester-le-Street face a difficult test at Jarrow Roofing, who moved into a promotion place with a midweek win.

The Cestrians name Michael Hepplewhite and are hopeful that Shaun Smith and Craig Mickle will come through fitness tests.

Roofing have Chris Hepple and striker Liam McBryde in the frame and so too is Josh Allen.

Following a 22-match winless sequence, Horden CW have taken four points from the last six and face promotion contenders Darlington RA with renewed confidence.

Player-manager Darren Atkinson is hopeful of signing a centre-half in time for the game but could well name an unchanged line-up.