Although they’ve come a long way in a year, manager Martin Swales claims it’s still work in progress for Sunderland RCA.
Last October, it was doom and gloom at Meadow Park.
The Wearsiders were rock bottom of the Ebac Northern League First Division with just one point, but ahead of tomorrow’ home tie with Bridlington Town in the second qualifying round of the FA Carlsberg Vase, they are 7th top.
“Gradually, we are getting there and establishing a winning mentality,” observed Swales.
“Everyone is working very very hard and the results are coming together. We are unbeaten in our last five league games which is the best run achieved since I came in as manager before last Christmas.”
RCA’s chances of defeating Bridlington Town are enhanced with the return of no fewer than five players.
Steve Callan, Liam Hatch, James Armstrong, Luke Richardson and Joe Hughes all come into the plans of Swales and so too with Colin Larkin, if he comes through a fitness test. The only absentee is Colin Larkin.
Washington boss Steven Hutchinson reckons his side will need no encouragement for what is bound to be a difficult tie against resurgent South Shields at Mariners Park.
“Everyone was absolutely devastated losing to Marine from the Evo Stik League Premier Division in Tuesday’s FA Cup replay when they scored the winner in the 120th minute.
“I’ve had some disappointments in my time as a player, but this was the toughest defeat to take.
“The lads will certainly be up for it tomorrow,” said Hutchinson, who cannot call upon recent signing from Durham City Conor Okus since he played for his former club in a previous round.
An interesting tie is in prospect when Easington Colliery have home advantage over Ashington. The Colliers, fourth top in Division Two, welcome back Bryan Norton, David Laight, Dale Spence and Liam Gill.
“The four lads missed Monday’s fixture at Team Northumbria when we came away with a very good point,” reported assistant manager Craig Parkinson.
Manger Paul Frame and Parkinson will have to examine an injury list which includes Liam Hodgson, Shaun Smith and Michael Watson before deciding on the line up.
Meanwhile, Easington have signed Dan Reeves from Seaham Red Star Reserves and 18-year-old goalkeeper Curtis Richardson who was a member of Red Star’s youth squad last season.
Ashington are mid table and manager Stephen Harmison has no fewer than six players doubtful with Marty Grieve, Andrew Johnson, James Harmison, Paul Weldon, Joe Race and Dylan Williamson on the treatment table.
Durham City boss Ian Chandler knows all about winning the Vase. He played in Whitley Bay’s first triumph and then managed the Sea Horses when they won the trophy on another three occasions.
Now Durham City’s manager, he is looking for another successful run, starting with victory at Bedlington Terriers.
He said: “I’m hoping to turn things around and reach the next stage. If we play as well as we can we will be okay.”
Paul Wardle returns from suspension and Chandler’s only concern is for Moussa Bakhti, who has been troubled with a hip injury.