Northern League: RCA out to keep good run going against champions Shildon

South Shields new boy Iulian Petrache wins a header in the midweek cup win over Penrith, but now starts a suspension
South Shields new boy Iulian Petrache wins a header in the midweek cup win over Penrith, but now starts a suspension
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Sunderland RCA aim to inflict another blow to Shildon’s First Division title defence at Meadow Park tomorrow (3pm).

A week away from their big FA Vase trip to Newport Pagnell Town, RCA hope to avenge their 4-1 defeat at Dean Street back in September.

Manager Martin Swales, fresh from a 5-0 League Cup victory at Whickham, said: “Kevin Gordon is missing and away on holiday. There will be a fitness test for Michael Charlton and 17-year-old local lad Brad Wilson impressed in midweek on his debut, so will be in my plans for the game.

“Ross Preston and Adam McGuinness will be back from being cup-tied and Liam McBryde will need another fitness test, while Clayton Davis also returns from work.”

“Shildon are a top side, and champions at the moment. They’ve lost two of the last three games, bad results by their expectations, so they’ll want to come and put things right.

“But we’re on a good run ourselves at the moment, played in midweek and had a good win. We have only had one defeat in 14 games, so we want to keep the run going ourselves.”

Shildon official John Atkinson, boosted by the 4-0 midweek win over Whitley Bay, said: “We have a fully fit squad to choose from. We have had a couple of poor results recently and need to start winning games again.”

Seaham Red Star, in ninth, are at home to relegation-threatened Guisborough Town.

Red Star’s Bradley Staunch is expected to return to the heart of the defence after missing the midweek friendly against Coxhoe Athletic.

Shaun Newbrook is to return in goal after Andy Jennison started the last two friendly games and Craig Lynch will continue as central striker, looking to add to his 22 goals in all competitions this season.

David Scorer and David Palmer are recovering from slight knocks but will be in the squad.

Washington, just six points above the relegation trapdoor, entertain Newton Aycliffe at Nissan.

Mechanics secretary Barry Spendley said: “We’re expecting to have a full squad, and recent signing Alex White will be available. With the game off last week, the lads are keen to get into a match at home.”

Aycliffe have won four of their last six matches.

Ryhope CW travel to Penrith with a strong squad.

Ryhope assistant manager Stuart Gooden said: “Thomas Bott is starting a two-match suspension, while Stephen Francis has a pulled hamstring so he will be unavailable as well.

“Apart from that, we have a fully fit squad to choose from and we are on a pretty good run at the moment.

“I went to watch Penrith in midweek and they’re a good, strong side, but we’re full of confidence at the moment.

“The first half of the season was difficult, but by November we settled into it and have had some good performances. Very few teams do well away at Penrith, so we’re excepting a big battle.”

South Shields, eight points behind leaders North Shields with two games in hand, journey to Jarrow Roofing for a derby clash.

But they must do without suspended ex-Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca.

New Romanian defender Iulian Petrache is also banned.

Secretary Philip Reay said: “We played Penrith in midweek and the manager rested a couple of players. Andrew Stephenson was out through injury, but we are hoping he will be back and will face a late fitness test.

“In recent weeks, the Roofing management team have brought in some new players to strengthen their squad.

“We played them on January 2 and beat them, however they had a lot of players missing through being cup-tied. So it’s going to be a completely different game, and they have home advantage. With the squad they have now, they are moving up league and not to be taken lightly.”

Bottom club Chester-le-Street have produced outstanding performances in their last two games, and they hope for more of the same at home to sixth-placed Bishop Auckland.

Fifth-top Consett entertain lowly West Allotment Celtic, who have a full strength squad available, apart from the suspended Paul Stoneman.

West Auckland, still not clear of relegation trouble, are at home to leaders North Shields and will have to be at their very best to get something from the game.