Confident Sunderland RCA gunning for home Vase progress in Sleaford crunch

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Sunderland RCA hope it will be third time lucky tomorrow and that their eagerly-awaited FA Vase fourth round tie against Sleaford Town at Meadow Park goes ahead.

Following two abortive attempts, there’s a good chance the tie will be played, but it will depend on how much rain falls on Wearside before kick-off.

“We desperately want to get the game on and are looking forward to hosting our Lincolnshire opponents,” said RCA secretary Rob Jones.

“I think we are heavy favourites, but we’d rather be the underdogs for what is expected to be a hard game.

“There are never any easy rounds at this stage of the competition.”

Manager Martin Swales describes the game as “massive” for his men, saying: “This is the furthest RCA have reached in the Vase and it would be great to reach the fifth round.

“We are flying the flag for the City and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we went all the way to Wembley.

“First of all though, we’ve got to beat Sleaford and the prize will be a home tie with Bristol Manor Farm next Saturday.”

Andrew Brown has completed a ban, but Reece Noble is suspended. James Armstrong and Luke Richardson are also available and Andrew Hunter will continue in goal in place of Jordan Harkess, who suffered a broken jaw in the last round against Tadcaster.

RCA have managed just one competitive game, a 2-0 Durham Challenge Cup win over Durham City, since December 19.

It took Morpeth Town and South Shields nine attempts before they finally managed to stage their third round tie, which had to be switched to Consett’s all-weather surface on Wednesday night.

Following an epic encounter, which Morpeth won 10-9 on penalties after extra time, the Northumbrians host holders North Shields in an attractive tie at Craik Park.

Morpeth manager Nick Gray will assess the fitness of his squad before finalising the line-up, while North Shields, whose midweek fixture was called off, go without Brad Brooking, who is ineligible having played for Durham City in an earlier round.

Newcomer Lee Mason, who played more than 100 games for Whitby Town, is set to make his debut and there’s a chance that Adam Forster, a goal-scoring hero when the Robins lifted the trophy at Wembley last May, will also be available for the Robins.

The other fourth round tie pairs Newton Aycliffe and Marske, ensuring that at least three Northern League sides will figure in the last 16.

Dunston UTS, winners at Coleshill Town last week, are already through and will be away to Kent club Ashford United next Saturday.