“NEVER mind the title, promotion will do,” claimed Washington manager Steven Hutchinson ahead of tomorrow’s Ebac Northern League Second Division game against bottom club Brandon United at the Nissan Sports Complex.
Hutchinson admits it was doom and gloom following last Saturday’s shock defeat at the hands of lowly Tow Law Town and demanded a big response for Tuesday’s critical match with leaders Seaham Red Star
We took our foot off the pedal last Saturday and got caught. I don’t want a repeat performance against BrandonSteven Hutchinson
“The lads came up big-time and proved they can compete with the best,” said Hutchinson, looking back on the Mechanics’ outstanding performance in a fine 2-0 victory.
“We took our foot off the pedal last Saturday and got caught. I don’t want a repeat performance against Brandon, who are immediately below Tow Law.
“If we can produce the goods against a side of Seaham’s ability then there’s no reason why we can’t do it tomorrow.”
Before a ball was kicked, Hutchinson’s brief from chairman Derek Armstrong and the committee was to end in one of the three promotion places and that winning the championship would be a bonus.
The Mechanics are third, just two points adrift of Norton and Stockton Ancients and 10 behind Red Star.
“I think Seaham have promotion nailed on and it’s any two from four to go up with them,” reckons Hutchinson, who has injury concerns for Michael Coghlan (hamstring) and his recent signing from Team Northumbria, Mattie Fisher (foot), but Mark Grant and Paul Wardle are added to the squad.
After seeing their long winning sequence ended at Washington, Seaham need to bounce back when they make the short trip to Peterlee for their fixture with South Shields.
“It was a disappointing result against Washington, who were really up for the game,” said secretary Dave Copeland.
“We are 11 points in front of fourth top Team Northumbria with four games in hand so it’s in our control and we’ve just got to plod on.”
Manager Mark Collingwood will need to assess the fitness of Chris Scott and Lewis Wing before finalising his line-up.
Goalkeeper Jak Wells, meanwhile, has been loaned to First Division outfit Newton Aycliffe.
Second-placed Norton and Stockton Ancients should be too strong for lowly Stokesley SC, while Team Northumbria will aim to make home advantage count against mid-table Willington.
Hebburn are the other side in the promotion mix when they host Ryhope CW boasting nine consecutive wins.
“Our form in the last couple of months has been phenomenal and we’ve come from nowhere to put real challenge on the four sides currently above us” declared Hebburn manager Scott Oliver.
“We have games in hand on all the other challengers and it’s in our own hands. I reckon six wins from the last 10 games will see us up.”
Oliver welcomes back Ross Toward and is hoping to sign a player before kick-off.
Ryhope have no injury concerns and boss Gary Pearson adds Josh Home Jackson to a strong squad.
Chester-le-Street line up against Esh Winning at Chester Moor Park and once again manager Colin Wake has injury concerns, with Kevin Dixon, Michael Hepplewhite, Kieron McDonald all doubtful.
Fortunately, Rob Draper, Craig Marron, Carl Ritchie, Lewis Herron, Joe Hamblin and Aaron Reynolds are able to play.
“All I am looking at is the awful performance of last weekend when I felt the lads took Brandon United for granted and didn’t give them the respect that any side deserves. Justifiably we got beaten,” said Wake.