SUNDERLAND RCA’s Ebac Northern League First Division fixture against Whitley Bay at Meadow Park tonight is of even bigger significance following the revelation that the Wearsiders have played an ineligible player.
Scott Richards was suspended but due to an oversight he figured against Billingham Town in a crucial bottom-of-the-table clash which Neil Hixon’s side won 1-0.
The club is up before the ENL Management Committee on Thursday night when they will almost certainly be docked three points, plunging them into even deeper trouble near the bottom.
It’s also extremely likely that Billingham Town will ask for the game to be replayed, which means that RCA’s total will be reduced by a further three points.
“I hold my hands up. I got it wrong but it was a genuine oversight on my part and we’ll have to take the consequences,” said RCA official Rob Jones, who will represent the club at Thursday’s meeting.
Currently, the Wearsiders are fifth from the basement and manager Neil Hixon is concentrating solely on matters on the field. Although they are without Jamie Clarke and Josh Home Jackson, Hixon welcomes the return of Adam Drysdale, Ian Redman and Jordan Dixon.
“I thought we played really well against Dunston UTS on Saturday and we should have won, even though we had to play for an hour with 10 men.
“We had two efforts cleared from the line and another good one disallowed but this is the way it has been going in recent weeks. I’m confident we will stay up – even if we do have three points deducted,” said Hixon.
Whitley Bay boss Ian Chandler is gunning for a top-three finish, but a blow tonight is the absence of goalkeeper Kyle Hayes, who serves a one-match ban. Michael Hammond, whose appearances have been limited, takes over.
Also named is Ash Davis, who has returned from Australia but a slight doubt surrounds the fitness of Callum Anderson, who was man of the match in the win over South Shields on Saturday.
South Shields’ fate will be sealed if they fail to defeat resurgent Consett at Belle Vue Park. The Mariners need to win their last three games to have any chance of staying up.
Penrith are not completely out of the woods but if they maintain their recent improved form they could take another step upwards by claiming vital points at West Auckland Town.
A big gate is expected when FA Carlsberg Vase Finalists Spennymoor Town visit Dunston UTS in the semi-final of the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup.