Seaham Red Star, who will make a third attempt to play their FA Carlsberg Vase third round tie at Dunston UTS on Tuesday, return to the bread and butter of Division One action at home to Jarrow Roofing tonight.
The game has been brought forward from tomorrow in an attempt to attract a bigger gate.
“We’ve tried it in the past and it was beneficial. This is the only local game on and I’m confident we’ll have an above-average attendance,” said secretary Dave Copeland.
Seaham’s chances of claiming all three points are enhanced by the inclusion of five players who would have all missed the last fixture.
David Palmer, re-signed from Bishop Auckland and a former Red Star player of the year, is set to make his seasonal debut, while Lewis Wing, Jack Walker, Craig Lynch and Lee Kerr all come into the plans of manager Mark Collingwood.
Jarrow Roofing, who have transferred Danny Carson to ambitious neighbours South Shields, also go without Kerry Hedley and James Fairley, while Corey Barnes is given only a 50-50 chance of successfully coming through a fitness test.
The loss of Carson has caused Roofing boss Richie McLoughlin to hit out at Shields. “Since day one of this season, we’ve had to fend off approaches for our players from South Shields,” McLoughlin said.
“A disproportionally high volume of our playing squad have had an offer from Shields, and it’s testament to the loyalty of those who have stayed that only three players have moved there from us.
“With the financial backing Shields have, can they not get their own players in or do they need me to scout for them first then for them to take players directly from us?
“We’re in a position where holidays and vastly inflated wages are being thrown at players. Even if I was in a position to negotiate like that with players, I wouldn’t. And obviously I understand why players have their head turned by that kind of offer.”
Chris Moore has wasted no time strengthening Durham City’s squad, following his recent appointment as manager.
He has brought in Michael King from Ashington and Harvey Saunders (Bishop Auckland), and the pair are expected to figure in tomorrow’s clash with West Auckland Town at Consett.
Moore, who is a coach at Durham University, is looking forward to his new role.
He said: “This is my first managerial appointment, but I’ve got a lot of coaching experience. So far, it’s been very much stop-start because of the weather, but it’s given me time on the training ground.”
Ross Wilkinson (hamstring), Aidan Haley (foot), and Alex McGrath (ankle), are definite absentees, but there’s a chance Nathan Lawrence will be pronounced fit.
Sunderland RCA, buoyant after reaching the fourth round of the FA Carlsberg Vase for the first time in their history, by defeating much-fancied Tadcaster Albion on Wednesday, are at home to West Allotment Celtic.
Goalkeeper Jordan Harkess is definitely ruled out and will be replaced by Andrew Hunter.
Allotment are fifth-bottom and if the Wearsiders reproduce the workrate shown against Tadcaster, will surely be in with a chance of securing another win.
Washington are looking to make it three wins on the bounce, but it will not be easy when Dunston UTS visit the Nissan Sports Complex.
The third-top Tynesiders are boosted by the returns of Mattie Fisher, Gary Shaw, Steve Bowey and regular stopper Liam Connell.
Mechanics boss Steve Hutchinson reckons his side will have to be on their game to take anything from Dunston, a side he rates highly.
He observed: “We beat them at their place, but they are always a difficult team to defeat. But, with a full squad, I’m hopeful that we can complete a double.”
Leaders Morpeth Town hand a debut to Mateusz Halambiec, who has played professionally in Poland for the last eight years.
Manager Nick Gray explained: “He played for Morpeth as a young lad and I’m over the moon he’s back with us. Hopefully he can help us towards the championship.”
Newcastle Benfield are the visitors to Craik Park and the home defence will need to curb the scoring instincts of veteran player-boss Paul Brayson, who is once again one of the league’s leading marksmen.
Shildon are second, only a couple of points behind Morpeth, going into their attractive game at fourth-placed Guisborough, while, at the other end of the table, Whitley Bay and Bedlington Terriers clash in a crucial fixture.
Whitley – who have only played 13 games – are in the unaccustomed position of being fourth from the basement, just ahead of Terriers on goal difference.
“It’s a big opportunity for us to get out of the bottom three,” said Bedlington boss Andy Ferrell, who has signed striker Jonathan Wright from Heaton Stannington.