Collingwood guns for Seaham Red Star’s bogey team

Seaham Red Star coach Tony Robinson and manager Mark Collingwood

Seaham Red Star coach Tony Robinson and manager Mark Collingwood

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SEAHAM Red Star – the Ebac Northern League Second Division’s in-form side – are hoping they are not derailed by bogey side Northallerton Town at the Calvert Stadium tomorrow.

SEAHAM Red Star – the Ebac Northern League Second Division’s in-form side – are hoping they are not derailed by bogey side Northallerton Town at the Calvert Stadium tomorrow.

“It’s a place where we have struggled in recent years, but we are at the top of our game and we should be good enough for three points,” declared manager Mark Collingwood.

Star have certainly come good in recent weeks.

They have won their last six games, scoring 25 goals and conceding just five, while Northallerton have slid down the table, managing just four points out of a possible 18.

Collingwood will field a near full-strength line-up, his only absentees being Carl Thorpe and Adam Johnston.

Ryhope CW are also challenging for promotion and, away to Birtley Town, assistant manager Stuart Gooden reports that Craig Hughes, David Pounder, Nathan O’Neill and Martin Metcalfe are all sidelined, but goalkeeper Chris Rookes returns to the squad.

Birtley boss Tony Boakes reckons his side is ahead of where he expected them to be at this stage of the season.

“When I took over during the summer, only two of last season’s squad, Matthew Soulsby and Jake Nicholson, were still at the club,” he said.

“They have stayed and the lads I’ve brought in have gradually gelled.

“My first task is to avoid relegation which I’m certain we’ll do.”

Birtley’s only absentee is the suspended Kai Hewitson.

Washington manager Steven Hutchinson reckons that pre-season expectations proved costly in his team’s early games.

He said: “Everybody thought we would just continue where we had left off and would not only gain promotion, but also win the championship.

“This is not how it is.

“You’ve got to grind out results and this is what we are now doing.

“We’ve turned it around and I’m confident we can extend our unbeaten sequence at home to Esh Winning and continue to climb the table.”

Hutchinson, though, could go into the game against lowly Esh without several regular players.

Richard Paxton and Aaron Croft are definitely out and he will need to assess the fitness of Greg Swansbury, Paul Wardle, Joe Walton and Dan Iredale before finalising his squad.

Chester-le-Street play Willington for the second time in 10 days and, although the Cestrians came out on top in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup, manager Colin Wake is wary.

“Games this close together are always awkward,” he said. “If you win the first one, it’s a battle of mental strength for the players to raise themselves and if you lose, revenge is the motivation.”

The Cestrians have Craig Marron, Jake Stafford, Adam Knowles and Jordan Fraser on the injured list and Wake is looking to bring in reinforcements.

South Shields, in mid-table, host second-top Norton and Stockton Ancients at Peterlee, pleased to have Barrie Smith back from a three-match ban.

Lee Maitland, Lloyd Evans and Paul Kane come into contention, while Jake Cunningham will continue in goal for the injured Steven Hubery.

Norton manager Andy Campbell paid credit to Seaham Red Star, who won Tuesday night’s clash.

He said: “They are a very good side especially going forward, but, although we lost, we are still second-top, only a point behind Team Northumbria with two games in hand, so, overall, I’m very pleased.”

A boost for Campbell is the return of David O’Brien and Rocky Andrews, but Jack Proctor is probably a couple of weeks away from making his comeback.