Northern League: Confidence sky-high as Sunderland RCA welcome third-top Consett, weather permitting
Sunderland RCA are in a very confident mood in Division One and third-top Consett are next in their sights, at Meadow Park tomorrow, weather permitting (3pm).
RCA are seventh in the table, fresh from a 6-2 midweek success at Whitley Bay
Manager Martin Swales said of Consett: “They are a very good side, with some great forwards, but we are on a decent run at the moment, so we’ll be hopeful of taking all three points.
“We’ll be going into the game in a very confident frame of mind.”
As for team news, Swales added: “Unfortunately Reece Noble took a knock in midweek and needs a fitness test.
“Ross McNab and Nathan O’Neill will also require late fitness tests.
“Clayton Davis and Jonny Davis, though, will both be back in the squad after missing our midweek game due to work commitments.”
Consett have doubts over Calvin Smith and Matty Slocombe, and they still miss long-term absentees Ryan McKinnon and Dan Hawkins.
Boss Mark Eccles said: “Ross Wilkinson and Harrison Scott will be making their debuts, possibly even making the starting line-up.
“It’s time for the lads to find their fitness again after three weeks of no football, but everyone in the league is in the same boat.
“I hope the game goes ahead, as we’re desperate to get back to playing regular football.
“We had a good midweek cup win, which was a boost for the team, but now we need to start picking up some points in the league.”
Seaham Red Star have a number of players available again as they travel to fourth-placed West Auckland.
Tommy Price, Lee Chapman, Codie Howe, Alex Ramshaw and Liam Hodgson all missed the 4-0 midweek loss to Newcastle Benfield but are back to take on West.
Star will also hand fitness tests to Robbie Bird and Kieran Galbraith, but long -term injury victims Nicky Kane, Ash Davis, Bradley Staunch and Craig Lynch remain out.
Regular goalkeeper Jordan Harkess is absent, with James McGregor stepping in.
Seaham manager Craig Lynch said: “People will look at that result in midweek and think we have just been battered at home, but it was a different story, to be honest.
“They had five shots, one of them was a rebound and they scored with four of them, while we’ve created 20 good chances (without scoring).
‘I cannot fault us.I thought our team shape was really good – we made it hard for them when we had the ball.“
West Auckland official Cliff Alderson said: “It’s a while since we played and we’re hoping the game will go ahead.
“We really don’t want to lose any more games, with the further wintry weather that’s due to hit us this weekend.
“If our fixture does beat the elements, we will be missing Ben Wood, who is still injured. All other players will be available for selection.”
Alderson added: “Both teams have missed a lot of games, due to the recent spate of bad weather.
“Before the enforced break, we were playing well and I hope we’ll pick up where we left off.
“But Seaham are playing well under new manager Craig Lynch, so it could be a tough match.”
Ryhope CW, still looking for points to keep clear of relegation trouble, entertain Ashington.
Manager Gary Pearson said: “We are due another snow storm this weekend, but I’m hoping it will pass us by, as we can’t afford to miss any more games.
“The current bad weather has seen us lose numerous games and we’ve slipped down the table and are currently close to the relegation zone.
“We’ve had a bit of a stop/start spell recently due to postponed games, but in our last match we won 3-2 against Newton Aycliffe, so I hope we can build on that.
“We desperately need to get some more points on the board.”
Ryhope miss long-term absentees David Gordon and Chris Wallace, while Elliott Woods is suspended.
Kyle Davis returns to the squad after missing five weeks with an ankle injury.
Pearson added: “Apart from that, we have a full bill of health. I need to trust my squad to perform well this weekend and take all three points against Ashington.”
Ashington miss midfielder David Edwards and the injured Shaun Henderson.
Second-bottom Washington are going through difficult times on and off the park and welcome sixth-top Shildon to the Nissan Sports Complex.
Official Andrew Gibson said: “All volunteers and committee members have resigned from the club, but we hope our young team can put up a good display in the game against Shildon.”
Bottom club Billingham Synthonia host Penrith at Norton.
Secretary Graham Craggs said: “It’s a month since we played, so we hope the predicted bad weather stays away and we can get a game in.
“All our team are available and the players are raring to go. We’re used to losing a few games to bad weather, but we’ve only managed to get in two games in the last seven weeks.
“Our new manager, Jamie Tunstall, has been here six weeks and would like to see a bit more action on the pitch.
“We accept we’re now relegated, but the players are keen to rack up a few more points before the end of the season to make our points tally a little more respectable.”
Third-bottom Jarrow Roofing entertain Guisborough Town in a crucial clash.
Roofing manager Richie McLoughlin said: “Guisborough are one of the sides pulling clear up the league and it’s always a battle with them.
“This game will be no different, a hard battle for the 90 minutes and whoever has the best work rate will play a big part in getting a result. If we can set out and achieve that desire to win the battle, then I’m sure we can go on to get something out of the game.”
The Priorymen are without three key players. Joe Ferguson is unavailable through work commitments, while Lee Bythway is missing with a foot injury and Brian Close is out with a knee problem.
Guisborough manager Gary Forster said: “We are expecting a very tough game. The Roofers have picked up with their results recently and despite their lowly league position, they have some exceptional players for this level of football.
“But we have been in good form ourselves recently and are still unbeaten since the start of the year, so, all things considered, it should be a highly competitive encounter – which is how it should be!”
Elsewhere, leaders Morpeth Town are at home to Team Northumbria, Newcastle Benfield host Dunston UTS and troubled Whitley Bay are away to Newton Aycliffe.
The first leg of the Buildbase FA Vase semi-final sees Marske United up against Stockton Town tomorrow.
With ongoing drainage problems at Mount Pleasant, Marske have agreed the unprecedented switch of their home leg to Stockton’s Bishopton Road West ground. Both ties – the return is next weekend -will now be played at Stockton, with the winners off to Wembley.
Marske only have long-term absentee Andy Ramsbottom unavailable.
Manager Carl Jarrett said: “We are really looking forward to the game and we are ready for a tough match against Stockton. I have a full squad to pick from and we will give it our best shot.”