Seaham Red Star manager Mark Collingwood is hopeful of causing an upset against First Division championship challengers Shildon at Dean Street tomorrow.
“We’ve done well against the top teams and have a decent away record, so there’s no reason why we can’t go there confident of giving them a good game,” he said.
Collingwood, though, has to contend with a triple blow. Leading scorer Liam McBryde will be out for at least two months after breaking an ankle last Saturday and Lewis Wing is ineligible because he is on loan from Shildon.
In addition, centre-half Carl Thorpe is also ruled out and Collingwood is looking to bring in a couple of new players and boost the squad.
Sunderland RCA manager Martin Swales watched tomorrow’s opponents, Whitley Bay, in action against Ryhope CW on Tuesday night and reckons they are a decent side.
He said ahead of the Meadow Park meeting: “Whitley have done well in cup games and played fewer league fixtures than any other side. Hence, they are in the bottom six, but I think they’ll make it difficult for us even though we have home advantage.
“However, we are on a 14-game unbeaten run, which is a record for the club. We’ll be going all out for the three points, but, at the very least, we want to maintain our undefeated sequence.”
Keeper James Talbot, on loan from Sunderland, is unavailable. He is with the Republic of Ireland Under-19 squad and Jordan Harkess takes over.
Captain Reece Noble, Ross McNab and Colin Larkin come in for RCA, but James Armstrong, Joe Hughes, Clayton Davis and Cliff Byrne are injured.
Whitley Bay journey to Wearside with a full squad including Chris Reid, Richard Flynn, Sam Norris and Jake Richardson.
“We played our 25th game of the season on Tuesday, which is a big ask, but we’ll go there prepared and hopefully aware of their strengths,” said experienced boss Paddy Atkinson.
Following a winless four-match sequence, Washington start favourites at home to fourth-bottom, managerless Newcastle Benfield, who again have Paul Brayson and Mark Convery in temporary charge.
Bishop Auckland and Durham City are equal on points before they clash at Heritage Park. A win for either side would lift them to almost halfway in the table.
Morpeth Town will be confident of maintaining a five-point lead at the top when they visit third-bottom Norton and Stockton Ancients, although manager Nick Gray insists they won’t take the Teessiders lightly.
“Norton have just started to find their feet and had some tidy performances recently, but we are in good form and I’ll be disappointed if we don’t come away with a win,” declared Gray.
Morpeth have signed Dale Pearson from Dunston UTS and he is immediately named in the squad along with goalkeeper Karl Dryden and Shaun Henderson.
A blow though is the news that Chris Jewels could be out until February after having an operation on his knee.
Norton have found the going tough since gaining promotion last season. They’ve moved to strengthen their squad by signing Glenn Donaldson from Brandon United, Lewis Brown (Bishop Auckland) and Dale Elgie (Northallerton Town).
Jarrow Roofing have also been busy on the transfer front and boss Richie McLoughlin has brought in the impressive pairing of James Fairley and Callum Patton from Durham City, Josh Allen (Hebburn Town) and Michael Coghlan (Washington).
“The four lads will be involved one way or another at Ashington, but I’m unsure about Kerry Hedley, who is struggling with a groin injury,” reported McLoughlin.
Ashington manager Steve Harmison has been beset with an horrendous injury list all season and tomorrow is no different, with James Taylor, James Harmison and Dylan Williamson all ruled out.
In addition, Ben Christensen, Paul Weldon, Joe Race and Andrew Johnson will all need fitness tests before kick-off.
North Shields haven’t been able to replicate the form of last season when they won the FA Carlsberg Vase at Wembley but even so are seventh, going into their home fixture with Consett.
Manager Graham Fenton welcomes the return of midfielder Michael McKeown and striker Dan Wilson, but young full-back Jordan Summerley is banned.
Bedlington Terriers boss Andy Ferrell wants more of the same from his squad at Guisborough Town.
He said: “We gained a good point from Sunderland RCA last weekend, but we’ll need a lot more performances like that if we are to get out of the relegation zone.”
Ferrell hoped that Keelin Nellis would have served a one-match ban on Wednesday, but the League Cup tie against West Auckland was postponed.