Expert Mark Carruthers' 'Five to Watch' across the North East non-league scene this week

Our non-league expert Mark Carruthers’ previews five games to watch this week in the North East.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 4:51 pm

Gateshead v Boston United

Date: Saturday 9th October

Competition: Vanarama National League North

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Mark Carruthers' 'Five to Watch'.

Venue: Gateshead International Stadium (NE10 0EF)

Kick-off Time: 3pm

I have to admit to being surprised at seeing Gateshead rated at 20/1 to win the National League North this season.

Not that I am a betting man (honest!) but they have a squad capable of challenging at the top end of non-league’s second tier and nothing I have seen this season has made me think any different.

They have suffered just one defeat in their first seven games and head into Saturday’s game sat in fifth place in the table.

Only Spennymoor Town have scored more goals in the league so far this season and Saturday’s game offers Mike Williamson and Ian Watson an opportunity to show off their forward-thinking, attack-minded brand of football to what will hopefully be a big crowd at the International Stadium.

Player to Watch: Macaulay Langstaff (Gateshead)

Workington v Dunston UTS

Date: Saturday 9th October

Competition: Buildbase FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round

Venue: Borough Park (CA14 2DT)

Kick-off Time: 3pm

After a recent rough patch of form, three home wins in a week have been just the tonic Dunston UTS needed ahead of a tough-looking trip to Workington.

The two sides have competed alongside each other in the Northern Premier League North West Division over the last two seasons and that will tell Chris Swailes and Jon McDonald just how big a task lies ahead of them.

The Cumbrians topped the table when the 2019/20 season was declared null and void after a strong campaign and looked well set for a further promotion bid when last season was brought to a premature end.

Their move to the West Division as part of the FA’s restructure of the non-league pyramid has done little to stunt their momentum and they head into Saturday’s tie with Dunston sat at the top of the table after taking 27 points from a possible 33 so far this season.

This one will be a severe test of Dunston’s recent upturn in form.

Player to Watch: Liam Thear (Dunston UTS)

South Shields v Basford United

Date: Saturday 9th October

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League Premier Division

Venue: 1st Cloud Arena (NE32 3UP)

Kick-off Time: 3pm

South Shields may have slipped to second place in the Premier Division table following last weekend’s draw at Nantwich Town - but there is no doubt they are still favourites to claim promotion into the National League North this season.

Basford United present an intriguing test for Graham Fenton’s side and arrive on South Tyneside in serious contention for a play-off place.

The Mariners remain unbeaten in the league this season with nine wins from their opening 12 games and with the likes of Conor Tee, Darius Osei and Callum Ross all in fine form, you would not rule out an extension of that form on Saturday.

A visit to the 1st Cloud Arena will also give an supporter a chance to witness the rapid progress being made on the Mariners new stand, which will provide a fitting backdrop for their bid for promotion this season.

Player to Watch: Conor Tee (South Shields)

Warrington Rylands v Hebburn Town

Date: Saturday 9th October

Competition: Buildbase FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round

Venue: Gorsey Lane (WA2 7RZ)

Kick-off Time: 3pm

Just five months has passed since Hebburn Town’s bid to return to Wembley in the FA Vase Final was ended by Warrington Rylands.

But so much has changed since Kevin Bolam’s side suffered a 1-0 defeat at Gorsey Lane.

Both sides now ply their trade in step four of the non-league pyramid after being awarded promotion as part of the summer restructure and both has lost a number of key players for several different reasons.

It seems fitting that they will now meet in a historic FA Trophy tie - the first in the history of both clubs - and it should be a stern test of the progress made since their FA Vase meeting.

Rylands have adjusted the better to life in the Northern Premier League and are currently sat in the play-off places in the West Division.

But after a tough start to the season, Hebburn are showing signs of life and their recent improvement means they will travel to the North West in good heart.

Player to Watch: Olly Martin (Hebburn Town)

North Shields v Thornaby

Date: Saturday 9th October

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division One

Venue: Daren Persson Stadium (NE29 0LH)

Kick-off Time: 3pm

I am not sure too many people would have classed this as a meeting of two genuine promotion contenders ahead of the season - but here we are, in October, and both sides are sat in the top seven.

North Shields were heavily backed to challenge at the top end of the season and they are still challengers, despite a curse of drawing too many games leaving them playing catch-up.

Thornaby are the surprise packages of the season so far but thoroughly deserve to be in the top three after a series of outstanding performances throughout the campaign.

They possess several players that can be rated amongst the best in the league and the form of top goalscorer Elliott Beddow means that a win on North Tyneside would not be a surprise.

This one feels genuinely unpredictable and it could simply be about who performs best on the day or who receives the biggest slice of luck.

Player to Watch: Dan Wilson (North Shields)