SUNDERLAND RCA hope to be still in pole position come the turn of the year.
Neil Hixon’s side has confounded the critics and, with the season at the halfway stage, they are just ahead of West Auckland in the very competitive race for the STL Northern League First Division championship.
“We are a bit short handed, mainly because of injuries, so we are very pleased with our form especially in the last few weeks,” said secretary Colin Wilson, with the Meadow Parkers having won six on the trot in league and cup since losing 4-1 at home to Spennymoor on November 5.
“We’ve been trying to strengthen the squad and this week signed Glen Robson from Newton Aycliffe and he is included for tomorrow’s game at home to Billingham Synthonia.”
Synners’ form has been inconsistent and the unavailability of Curtis Collantine (hamstring) is a blow to their hopes at RCA.
Nathan Jameson is also expected to be ruled out, but Jamie Blyth, ineligible for the FA Carlsberg Vase last Saturday, resumes.
West Auckland are level on points with RCA and have a game in hand on the Wearsiders.
They travel to South Shields tomorrow, with the hosts anxious to bounce back following a four-goal defeat by Newcastle Benfield in midweek.
West are celebrating after landing Newton Aycliffe’s prolific leading marksman, Elliott Gardner, who last month turned down the chance to join Spennymoor and Shildon.
Dunston UTS aim to keep the pressure on the leading pair by defeating Consett at Belle Vue.
“We’ve taken 15 points from the last 18, but it’s never easy at Consett. Fortunately, I can take a full squad,” reported manager Billy Irwin.
Opposite number Kenny Lindoe is not so fortunate. Carl Piecha and Ryan Bell are definitely out and a doubt surrounds the fitness of Anthony Lund. Recent signings Luke Gilbert (Gateshead Reserves) and Sam Hodgson (Whitby) are in the squad.
The match of the day sees Ashington host Whitley Bay.
The Colliers, with several games in hand on the seven sides above them, are in a strong position to challenge the leading pack, which includes fourth-top Whitley Bay.
Ashington await news on the availability of Damon Mullen, Mark O’Dea and Craig Scott, while Bay have serious selection concerns with Craig McFarlane, Lee Paul Scroggins, Gary Ormeston and Gareth Williams definite absentees.
Spennymoor, sitting fifth before their trip to Billingham Town, have Danny Moore suspended but Craig Ruddy and Kieron Edwards return. Their hosts who have signed David Onions from Guisborough.
Bedlington Terriers entertain Newton Aycliffe but miss Stuart Elliott, Stephen Harrison, Peter Snowdon and Colin Morton.