Northern League: Gooden gets Ryhope CW in the mood for crunch double header in survival battle

Seaham Red Star (red/white) battle West Auckland in the Northern League last weekend. Picture by Kevin Brady

Seaham Red Star (red/white) battle West Auckland in the Northern League last weekend. Picture by Kevin Brady

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Injury-hit Ryhope CW have five men back for their crucial First Division six-pointer at Washington tomorrow.

Both sides sit just outside the relegation zone going into the clash at Nissan, but Ryhope boss Gary Pearson has Richard Paxton, Adam Sakr, Bryan Stewart, Lee Chapman and Joey Melvin back.

On the negative side, Ryhope are definitely without injured defender Matt Stephenson and midfielder Nathan O`Neill, while defender Tom Bott is suspended.

Goalkeeper Chris Rookes, who came off injured in last week’s FA Vase defeat at Billingham Town, and defenders Leon Ryan, Stephen Francis, and Davy Gordon all require fitness tests.

Assistant manager Stu Gooden said: “We had a very positive performance against Ashington in the League Cup in midweek.

“We deserved at least a draw and were very unlucky to concede in the last minute, but some lads got some valuable minutes into their legs which was very important.

“We have two massive league games coming up, away to Washington then home to Guisborough Town, and both teams are in and around us, so it’s massively important we get something from both games.”

Washington manager Neil Hixon said: “Lewis Galpin is still away on holiday and Danni Lay is still out injured, while Andrew Brown is suspended and there’ll be a late fitness test for Jonny Wightman.

“But everyone else is available. We’re expecting a tough game and just need to be at our best to get the three points that we’re looking for.”

Defending champions Shildon, who entertain West Auckland, are assessing Sam Hodgson, who was injured in midweek, but should be available.

President John Atkinson commented: “It should be an interesting game and will be nice to meet the old players from last season. The local derby is always closely contested and we should be on a high from our win in midweek.”

West Auckland press officer Cliff Alderson said: “We’ll be without Dan Richmond, who’s suspended, as he received a three-match ban from last Saturday. It’s going to be a hard game against a very good side and after our defeat last week.”

The battle at the top continues, with North Shields holding an eight-point lead over neighbours South Shields, but the Mariners do have two games in hand over the leaders.

North Shields face a tricky away game at Newton Aycliffe, while South Shields are at home to bottom club Guisborough Town.

Joint South Shields manager Lee Picton is looking for an improved performance tomorrow.

He said: “We’ve had them watched and have prepared as well as we possibly can as a management team. We know what they’re going to be all about. They’re going to come here and try to make it difficult for us, as a lot of teams have done recently.

“We’ve got to be better than we were on Tuesday (a 4-2 League Cup win over Blyth Town) – I was disappointed with our performance.”

Leepaul Scroggins misses out with a knee problem, while Gavin Cogdon and Louis Storey remain out. Anthony Callaghan returns after being cup-tied for the past two matches.

Morpeth Town, in third and also with games in hand, have a tough match away to Marske United.