Ryhope CW – looking forward to playing in the Northern League top flight for the first time – have an attractive home FA Cup tie against Pickering Town to begin their season tomorrow.
But manager Gary Pearson is forced to field an under-strength side.
“We are awaiting confirmation from the FA for loan moves for Chris Bell from Shildon and Harvey Saunders from Darlington 1883, but there are also other players unable to play tomorrow,” reported secretary Dougie Benison.
There have been big changes at Washington, who have home advantage against Newton Aycliffe.
Former Sunderland utility man Darren Williams has come in, not only to boost the managerial team but also to play and his experience will be a big asset, according to manager Steve Hutchinson.
“Darren knows the game inside out and joins Neil Hixon, the ex-Sunderland RCA boss, Brian Rowe and Dave Hall in a five-man team,” said Hutchinson.
“Our aim is a top-five finish and we want to get off to a flyer by beating Newton Aycliffe.”
The Mechanics were busy during the close season, bringing Ibrahim Hassan, Andrew Brown and Daryl Hall from South Shields, Mattie Waters (Whitby), Mark Costello (Hebburn Town), Gary Shaw (Dunston UTS), Ross Simpson (Durham City), Callum Hope (RCA) and Callum Hassan..
Billy Irwin – who has been with the club for 19 years as player and manager – takes new-look Dunston UTS to Barnoldswick Town with several youngsters competing for starts.
He must decide whether to play Mark Cook (ex-Newcastle Benfield) or Stefan Holden, who impressed in pre-season, in goal. Last season’s No 1, Liam Connell, has joined big-spending South Shields, who visit Marske United.