BIRTLEY Town tonight take a break from the rigours of challenging for promotion in the STL Northern League Second Division, but they could hardly have wished for a more daunting task than lining up against Team Northumbria in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup.
Team lead the table, firm favourites to clinch one of the three promotion places, while Birtley are fourth.
“Even though we will be severely depleted, I’m looking forward to the game,” said manager Scott Oliver.
“They are on fire but we’ve lost just once in the last 14 matches and I’m confident we’ll give them a good game.”
Goalkeeper Andy Hunter is definitely sidelined after having to be substituted after only 10 minutes at North Shields on Saturday.
Neil Bussey took over and he will compete for the vacancy with Phil Holgate, who was unavailable at the week-end.
John Martin scored twice at the Daren Persson Stadium but he too is on the injured list as is James Allsopp.
In addition, doubts surround the availability of Kevin Dixon, Craig Marron and Dan Smith.
“We have a small squad so we could be down the bare bones. It’s a game I want to win although promotion is the first priority,” added Oliver.
Washington meet Alnwick Town in the Second Division and boss Ritchie Latimer is without John Lydon and Danny Robinson, who are working.
He will need to check on the fitness of Nicky Evans, Chris Compson, Alan Oliver and Mark Covell before announcing his squad but he will take at least 15 players to Craik Park.
Three games are schedulled in Division One. Tow Law Town desparately need to defeat Newcastle Benfield at the Ironworks Road ground as they fight to avoid the drop.
South Shields are also too near the bottom for comfort and won’t find it easy against Newton Aycliffe, who are sixth during their first season in the top flight.
Consett are immediately above the Mariners and they go to Ashington whose manager Gary Middleton has doubts surrounding the fitness of striker Phil Bell and defender James Taylor.