Northern League previews: Seaham Red Star look to kickstart season; Ryhope, Washington, Consett in action
Seaham Red Star coach Jon McDonald believes that his side are heading into a week that could change their season for the better.
Red Star travel to face Northern League Division One’s bottom club Penrith tomorrow, before hosting third-bottom Whickham next weekend.
Those two games offer Red Star an opportunity to secure their first win in the league since mid-August and McDonald insisted that one win could change the atmosphere inside their dressing room.
“I think we are suffering with a bit of a lack of confidence at the moment,” explained the former North Shields manager, who was brought into Seaham to assist Mark Collingwood last week.
“But that can all change with a win and this week offers us a chance to do that.
“Penrith and Whickham are two crucial games and we have to think that they can kickstart our season.
“That’s not to say it will be easy because both sides are battling to improve their records too.
“We have brought in some experience to help the younger lads and hopefully they can have an impact over the next week.”
Michael Chilton and David Henderson could make their league debuts at Penrith and fellow new signings Levi Collins and Adam Rundle will also be in the squad for the trip to Cumbria.
Ryhope CW face one of their toughest tests of the season when they travel to Stockton Town according assistant manager Stu Gooden.
Ryhope head to Teesside on the back of four wins in the last six games, a run that has shot them up to 11nth in the Division One table.
That run has coincided with the return from injury of a number of key players and Gooden insisted that they are full of confidence as they make the trip to Stockton.
He told the Echo “It is a very tough test for us.
“Stockton were one of the best sides in the league during the second half of last season.
“Their passing, movement and organisation is all very impressive and we will try and beat them at their own game.
“We always said that when we had a full squad we would improve and that is what has happened.
“We are near full-strength now and we are full of confidence for the game.”
Ryhope defender Danni Lay has been ruled out for up to four weeks with a foot injury and both Jake Winship and Joe Melvin also miss the game with knee injuries.
League leaders Consett could hand a first start to new signing Matty Cornish as they travel to Newton Aycliffe.
The midfielder joined the Steelmen from North Shields last weekend and scored as a late substitute in their 2-2 draw with Sunderland RCA last weekend.
Dan Capewell and Liam Marrs return to the Dunston UTS squad for their trip to Guisborough Town.
The duo missed last weekend’s FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round exit at the hands of Gateshead but are now back in contention.
Ashington will hand late fitness tests to midfielders Shaun Henderson and Kyle Downey ahead of their trip to Whitley Bay.
Winger Arran Wearmouth starts a three-match ban meaning his misses West Auckland Town’s game at North Shields.
In Division Two, Washington manager Jason Jones has challenged his players to be more prolific ahead of their meeting with Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.
The Mechanics were impressive in their 3-1 win against Durham City last weekend as a Kris Goss brace and a goal from Chris Pattison gave Jones’ side all three points.
But their hopes of moving away from the lower reaches of the Division Two table took a hit with Tuesday night’s home defeat against Willington.
Jones believes that he has identified the reasons behind his side’s struggle to head towards mid-table and is hopeful that they can start to put that right when they host Albion.
“We should have been three or four goals ahead at half-time against Willington,” explained Jones.
“We had shots blocked, their keeper had a great game, but we also missed some unbelievable chances.
“We need to be more prolific, we have to be if we want to start putting a run together.
“We create so many chances, but we don’t take anywhere near enough of them.
“This league really is dog-eat-dog, anyone can beat anyone, so you need to take chances. If we can do that, we will start to put a run together and move up the table.”
Josh Akal has been ruled out with a knee injury and Jones will hand late fitness tests to Rhys Williams and Callum Smith ahead of the game.
Easington Colliery can move back into the top five with an away win at West Allotment Celtic.
The Colliers have been dealt a blow with the news that Kyle Middleton will miss the majority of the season with a serious knee injury.
Ethan Wood has left the club to join Newton Aycliffe but Connor Short and Michael Cooke will return to the squad for the trip to Druid Park.
The Division Two weekend actually gets underway tonight as Crook Town head to Ironworks Road to face Tow Law Town.
Leaders Billingham Town face a tough test as they look to extend their lead at the top of the table as in-form Heaton Stannington visit Bedford Terrace tomorrow.
York City youngster Harry Thompson could make his Town debut after joining on a work experience loan.
Chester-le-Street Town will hope to take advantage of any slip-ups by the leaders when they host Willington.
Billingham Synthonia are without Nico Weatherald (suspension) and Connor Smith (ankle injury) for their home game with Brandon United.
Birtley Town are without the suspended Cameron Hood as they go looking for their first win in four games against Esh Winning.
Chris Dickinson could be in line for a quick reunion with his former Northallerton Town team-mates after joining Redcar Athletic on Wednesday.
The two sides meet on Teesside tomorrow and Dickinson will be in the Redcar squad for the game.
Jarrow FC have added Seaham Red Star defender Ross Toward, pictured, to their squad ahead of their trip to Bedlington Terriers.
Glen Hargrave and Aidan McGee return to the Jarrow squad, but Sam Attewell and Micky Watson have been ruled out.