Ex-Cat Anth Smith faces reality of Cestrian challenge in the STL Northern League

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MANAGER Anth Smith, who played for Sunderland and Aberdeen, continues to assess the Chester-le-Street squad and reckons it could take him up to a month to decide the way forward.

Recently-appointed Smith has been in charge for two games – both defeats – and tomorrow’s STL Northern League Second Division game at Washington could again prove difficult.

“There will be no quick fix. We have a young squad which I am looking to strengthen but nothing is imminent,” said Smith, who is pleased with the response from his new charges on the training ground.

Washington are third and manager Ritchie Latimer could name an unchanged squad following his team’s midweek victory in the Durham Challenge Cup.

Horden CW are bottom and they too could find the going difficult at Alnwick Town, who are fourth after gaining promotion from the Northern Alliance last season.

Horden boss Brian Honour definitely misses Andrew Shingleton, Stuart Brightwell, Craig Shields and Shaun Ryder in Northumberland, but Chris Baxter is back and the Colliers could bring in two youngsters from Hartlepool United.

Horden sprang a surprise last night when they defeated Brandon United 3-1 in the Preliminary Round of the Durham Challenge Cup last night.

The game turned on four minutes midway through the second period when Kevin Price bagged a brace of goals for the Colliers.

John Guy threw Brandon a lifeline but Jack Honour sealed Horden’s victory with his 85th-minute strike.

Danny Lowes will be missing for at least a couple of months and Alnwick await news on the availability of Gary Bayles and Jonathon Colley.

Team Northumbria were jubilant following their win in the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup at Newton Aycliffe and visit Morpeth Town confident they can build on the form which has taken them into second, only a couple of points behind Darlington RA.

Morpeth, though, are a much better side this season after finishing bottom last time.

Their chances are boosted by the inclusion of Cameron Patrick, Michael Robinson and Steven Howes while newcomers from North Shields, Stuart Wright and Phil Cartright. will also be in the squad.

In Division One, Spennymoor Town will aim to go second by winning at Norton and Stockton Ancients while Dunston UTS, who together with Sunderland RCA and Whitley Bay are the only unbeaten teams, host Consett, with Stephen Goddard and Brad Brooking coming into the plans of manager Billy Irwin.

Whitley Bay, bottom of the table, are at Stokesley SC and boss Ian Chandler reports Callum Anderson comes in but Brian Smith is sidelined.

Alu Bangura will take charge of Newcastle Benfield for only the third time when Newton Aycliffe visit Sam Smith’s ground. Benfield have also appointed Tom Wade as assistant manager.

Ashington await news on the availability of captain Darren Lough, Chris Fawcett and Andy Dugdale at Billingham Synthonia, whose only absentee is Robert Bettson.