SUNDERLAND RCA manager David Lee is hoping for the rub of the green in the last five matches of the Ebac Northern League, starting in tomorrow’s crucial relegation clash against Bedlington Terriers at Doctor Pit Welfare Park.
He said: “We’ve played well in recent matches but haven’t got the results we deserved. I thought we were the better team for 70 minutes last Saturday but finished empty handed.”
The Wearsiders, only four points ahead of Team Northumbria who occupy the last relegation place, welcome back strikers Gavin Barton and Daniel Wray but Steven Baynes is definitely out
Bedlington Terriers were in pole position at the end of August and were still in the top six following September’s programme but since then it has been mainly downhill and they too are struggling to avoid the drop. Just before transfer deadline date, they transferred Andrew Mogwo to Durham City.
Following a midweek defeat, Team Northumbria are precariously placed and they could again find it difficult at mid-table Whitley Bay, who have no pressure.
Morpeth Town look relatively safe but are not out of the woods and manager Nicky Gray reckons they need another win to get over the line.
Whether they can succeed against Newcastle Benfield remains to be seen, especially as Michael Hall, Sean Taylor and Chris Jewels are definite absentees.
In addition Gray will need to check on the availability of Mark Lancaster, Mark Warmsley, Shaun Henderson and Paul Dunn.
Newcastle Benfield boss Steve Bowey also has big decisions to make. He misses Paul Talbot, Mark Convery, Carl Patterson, Gary Day, Jordan Melish and Michael Riley.
“Really, we haven’t got a lot to play for but we’ll need to roll up our sleeves and get on with it. It is difficult with a small squad and playing so many games but this is where we are,” said Bowey who could name himself.
Following the sudden departure of manager Adam Furness and his assistant Ian Skinner two weeks ago, Durham City have appointed the former Sunderland player John Cornforth as manager.
Four player have left New Ferens Park and four have arrived. The departures are James Moore to Team Northumbia, Craig Ellison (Newcastle Benfield), Alex Francis (West Auckland Town) and Craig Hindmarch (Esh Winning).
Ryan McGorrigan (Newcastle Benfield), Andrew Mogwo (Bedlington Terriers), Ricky Fenwick (South Shields) and Gareth Young (Bishop Auckland) were all registered in the 48 hours before the transfer deadline.
The quartet could be involved in the home fixture with Billingham Synthonia who are pleased that Nathan Porritt came through unscathed when he made his first appearance since February in last week’s game.
In Division Two, Seaham Red Star need to win at Birtley Town if they are to have any chance of promotion.
“Quite simply, we’ve got to take maximum points from our last three games. We’ll give it our best shot and see what happens which is all we can do,” observed manager Mark Collingwood, who has captain Chris McCabe available.
Birtley, who have a number of players involved with Gateshead College, cannot name Leon Watson, Jack Gurr or goalkeeper Jack Wilson. Jordan Harkess will deputise in goal.
Red Star will anxiously await the result of the match of the day between fourth placed Jarrow Roofing and second top West Allotment Celtic. The pair are in the strongest position to join already-promoted North Shields in top flight next season.
Roofing boss Richie McLoughlin though is taking nothing for granted.
“We’ll try to win all our last six games but nothing is certain. We lost last week to Washington who are a very good side and it certainly won’t be easy against West Allotment,” observed McLoughlin who has Ian Davison in the frame but Stuart Nicholson is banned.
West Allotment boss Paul Stoneman reckons tomorrow’s game is a cup final. He said: “Our last four games all look difficult. After tomorrow, we play Washington, North Shields and Thornaby so it’s not going to be easy. Fortunately I think I’ll have a full strength squad available tomorrow.”
Heaton Stannington are still mathematically in contention but are now rated outsiders after conceding two points in midweek.
The Tynesiders host Northallerton Town pleased that Jonathon Wright and Gary Dixon are able to play but Phil Smith is expected to be sidelined after being injured last weekend.
Chester-le-Street are looking to avenge an early season drubbing by Washington when they play the reverse fixture at Chester Moor Park when, according to manager Colin Wake, they gave their worst performance of the season.
Craig Marron and Robbie Draper are ruled out but David Surrey and Tony Healer are available.
Already promoted North Shields are aiming to go up as champions. The Robins, who first joined the Northern League 50 years ago, gained promotion from the Wearside League in 2004. Kieran Wrightson, John Grey, Michael McKeown and Michael Tait are all ruled out against Whickham at the Daren Persson Stadium.