Northern League: Sunderland RCA relish Boxing Day showdown with neighbours Ryhope CW
Sunderland RCA lock horns with Ryhope CW in a big battle for derby bragging rights on Boxing Day (noon kick-off).
The neighbours drew 1-1 in August and another close battle is expected.
RCA have won four on the trot, while Ryhope have hit 19 goals in their last six matches.
RCA manager Martin Swales said: “It’s a local derby and a massive game for us. Ryhope are a club I’ve previously managed for five years, so it’s a big game for me personally.
“We’re playing on the back of a good run – out of the last nine games we’ve only been defeated once – and had a good win against Dunston in midweek.
“We’re expecting a decent crowd and Ryhope have picked up recently too. They’ve scored lots of goals and conceded some too, so it’s a big game for them as well as us.”
John Butler returns after a three-match suspension for RCA, but Luke Richardson is away on holiday. Kev Gordon is struggling with a hamstring injury and Ross McNab is out injured.
Seventeen-year-old Brad Wilson has been brought into squad.
Gary Pearson’s Ryhope go into the game in good heart following last week’s impressive late surge to win 4-3 at West Auckland.
Defending champions Shildon entertain Bishop Auckland at Dean Street (11am).
The Railwaymen’s manager, Gary Forrest, said: “I have a full strength squad apart from keeper Nick Liversedge, who’s suspended.
“It will be another tough game. We have three derbies on the trot, this is the middle one and Bishop are a good side. It will be a very difficult game.”
Bishops, beaten 6-3 at Morpeth Town in midweek, will be without the injured Ross Colquhoun, while Ryu Williamson, Daniel Madden and Andre Bennett all face late fitness tests.
Second-top South Shields entertain Penrith at Mariners Park (2pm).
Secretary Philip Reay said: “We’ll be looking to complete a league double over Penrith and we should have a strong squad to select from, with Lee Paul Scroggins returning.
“Hopefully Gavin Cogdon will also take some part in the game following his injury.
“There are no new injury worries, although Lewis Storey is still out. He has returned to training, and his rehabilitation is going well and we hope to have him back in the squad in January.”
Adam Wrightson’s loan from Gateshead finished after last weekend’s win at Washington.
Whitley Bay, beaten at Sunderland RCA last week, are at home to West Allotment Celtic (noon).
Bay official Julian Tyley said: “We are wanting to get back to winning ways after a couple of defeats. We have two new signings, Peter Glenn Ravenhill and Tebo Charmey, in line to make their full debuts. However, Andy Robertson is out and Ross Wilkinson is very doubtful with a back injury.”
Newcastle Benfield entertain leaders North Shields (11am) without Mark Dummett (ban) and Moussa Bakhti, but Lewis Scorgie should return from injury and Mark Turnbull is back after a suspension.
The Robins – five points clear of South Shields – this week had ex-Newcastle United striker Malcolm Macdonald officially opening their new clubhouse.
The project has enabled them to replace a cold and damp steel shipping container, which accommodated just a single wooden bench and 12 chairs, with a brand new clubhouse comprising a large function room, kitchen facilities, spectator toilets and a storage room.
Macdonald, who scored nearly 135 goals in five seasons for the Magpies and won 14 England caps, said: “What a great set-up we now have at the Darren Persson Stadium.
“My role as president here has shown me the huge importance of quality stadia at the lower levels of the football pyramid and this new development will allow the club to really push on – it’s hugely exciting for all our fans.”
Title hopefuls Morpeth Town hoist neighbours Ashington (11am).
The Colliers miss the suspended Ben Harrison, plus long-term absentees Damien Stevens, Scott Blandford, James Taylor, Ben Richardson and Craig Scott. Shaun Bell is doubtful.
Head coach Ian Skinner said: “If we can apply ourselves and make sure that we work hard, then we will be a match for Morpeth.”
Lowly Guisborough Town visit Marske United (11am), with captain Adam Wheatley back from a three-game ban for the hosts.
Dale Mulligan faces a fitness test.
Marske boss Carl Jarrett said: “We won’t be taking the game for granted. Fans were disappointed last year after Guisborough beat us three times and we don’t want that to happen again. We won’t be taking it lightly and hopefully get the win that we need.”