Northern League: Sunderland RCA's positive mindset ahead of big home clash with South Shields
Sunderland RCA are thinking positively going into tomorrow's attractive home First Division match against South Shields.
A big crowd is expected at Meadow Park as RCA look to end the second-top Mariners’ 22-match winning run.
With Sunderland AFC not playing, and Shields carrying a big travelling support, the ground is sure to welcome its biggest attendance since Darlington 1883 pulled in 463 in 2013.
RCA, boosted by last week’s 3-0 victory at West Allotment Celtic, where Colin Larkin bagged a hat-trick, saw their midweek home clash against Penrith postponed.
Manager Martin Swales said: “Josh Carmichael, Nathan Cummings and Luke Richardson are back, but Brad Wilson, Lee McBride and Jonathan Davis are out.
“We are expecting a tough game obviously, but we will have a big crowd behind us and are very positive going into the match.”
Shields made a number of changes for the midweek Durham Challenge Cup win at Consett, and joint bosses Lee Picton and Graham Fenton may be forced into another “shuffle of the pack”.
Carl Finnigan, Gavin Cogdon and Darren Holden were all forced off with injuries.
Picton said: “We shuffled the pack again on Tuesday in terms of our starting line-up, and we’re going to have to do the same thing tomorrow.
“It’s great that we’ve got the likes of Darren Lough, Jon Shaw, Wayne Phillips, Craig Baxter, Julio Arca and David Foley, who didn’t start the Consett game and will be fresh enough to call upon tomorrow.
“Hopefully Barrie Smith and Stephen Ramsey aren’t too far away from returning as well.
“We have got that depth to draw upon, and we’re focused on another three points tomorrow.
“We’re expecting another really tough game against Sunderland RCA.”
Ryhope CW, unbeaten in five matches, face a difficult game at Bishop Auckland.
Leon Ryan, Joey Melvin, Danni Lay and Chris Trewick are all back, but Lee Chapman, the two-goal midweek hero in Tuesday’s 4-4 thriller against Shildon, is definitely out as he is away.
Nathan O’Neill remains sidelined with injury, while Matty Weirs faced a late fitness test.
Assistant boss Stu Gooden said: “We are looking forward to the game - our home form has been excellent.
“We have gone five games unbeaten, so going to Bishops full of confidence and they have the best away ground in the league.
“The lads are looking forward to it. We’re getting everybody back from injury and suspension now, so almost have a full squad to choose from again.”
Bottom club Chester-le-Street, who were so close to victory at Washington last week, welcome Marske United to Moor Park.
Chester, desperate to get points to help their fight against relegation, miss Joe Grant, Mark Peck, Alex White and Daniel McGuire, but David Latham and Jack Honour return
Fourth-bottom Washington travel to Penrith intent on maintaining the 10-point gap between them and the bottom three.
Seaham Red Star are without a game, but they return to action at Penrith on Wednesday.
Shildon, who slipped to fourth when Morpeth Town won on Wednesday, entertain Dunston UTS.
Midfielder Lewis Dodds is out, but Anthony Bell returns.
Dunston have Chris Youldon back after a bout of flu, while Dan Capewell, Dan Halliday and Jak Ashton return after injuries.
Official Bill Montague said: “This will prove to be a very stern test for Dunston at the ground of one of the strongest teams at the top of this division.”
Jarrow Roofing go to Whitley Bay, with both teams on four-game unbeaten runs.
Roofing, 14 points clear of the drop zone, are set to give fringe players their chance. Boss Richie McLoughlin said: “We will be looking to give everyone the chance to show what they can do over the coming weeks. Everybody has played their part in helping us move away from trouble, and it’s only fair that everyone gets their chance - and we may start putting that into action when we go to Whitley Bay.”
Leaders North Shields have a huge game at home to third-top Morpeth Town, while Newton Aycliffe head to Newcastle Benfield.
Tonight, second-bottom West Allotment Celtic are at full strength for the visit of mid-table Ashington.
Ashington have Wayne Buchanan back from suspension. Celtic have managed just one win and one draw in their 15 home league games.