MANAGER Neil Hixon is confident that Sunderland RCA can claim a quick double over Billingham Town when the Wearsiders make an early Ebac Northern League return to Bedford Terrace tomorrow.
On Tuesday, RCA were taken to the wire in the Durham Challenge Cup but Hixon thought the Teessiders were flattered by the scoreline.
“We were cruising at 4-1 and really should have seen them off much quicker.
“But they came back and in the end I was grateful for a 5-4 win.
“The lads will be confident and I’m expecting to take all three points,” enthused Hixon, who is set to hand a debut to Elliott Cutts, signed from Durham City.
A major boost is the return of Brian Close, who has been out for six weeks while Scot Richards and Stephen Halliday also come into contention.
Billingham Town are third from bottom and their boss Carl Jarrett has re-signed James Crossman from Norton and Stockton Ancients.
He is added to the squad along with Micky Dunwell and Mattie Garbutt but Mattie Thomas is unavailable.
Darlington 1883 have an eight-point lead at the top and with 60 goals are far and away the leading scorers.
Even so, Whitley Bay manager Ian Chandler believes the Seahorses can give the Quakers a good game.
He said: “They appear to be the best team in the league but with the exception of one blip, we’ve been in good form ourselves in recent weeks. The lads can’t wait for the challenge.”
Chandler, meanwhile, has reluctantly released Denver Morris but Chris Reid and Brad Brooking are expected to play a part at Heritage Park.
Stephen Shaw is the only absentee from the Dunston UTS line up against Norton and Stockton Ancients who this week signed Steve Oakley from Esh Winning, Callum Wilson (Whitby Town) and Ross Gardiner (Billingham Synthonia).
Ashington manager Gary Middleton is forced to add Gareth Bainbridge and Andrew Johnson to his unavailability list for the visit of Consett. The Colliers have missed Josh Gray, Phil Bell and Jonny Godsmark for some weeks.
Team Northumbria line up with Newcastle Benfield boosted with the news that international clearance has been obtained for Alan Ewart. He played in Northern Ireland and is now at Newcastle University.
Anthony Woodhouse has enjoyed the highs and the lows since being appointed Newcastle Benfield boss. In his first game, Benfield defeated Sunderland RCA but crashed to a heavy defeat by Bedlington Terriers midweek.