Five to Watch: Non-league expert Mark Carruthers picks the key games across the North East this week including Heaton Stannington v Sunderland West End, Marske United v Chester and Seaham Red Star v Sunderland RCA

Mark Carruthers' 5 to watch.Mark Carruthers' 5 to watch.
Mark Carruthers' 5 to watch.
In a new weekly feature, our non-league expert Mark Carruthers previews FIVE big games to look out for in the North East this week.

Heaton Stannington v Sunderland West End

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division Two

Venue: Grounsell Park (NE7 7HP)

Date: Wednesday 29th September

Kick-off: 7.30pm

Is this finally “the year” for Heaton Stannington?

Tyneside’s other black and whites are perennially discussed as possible candidates for promotion into the Northern League’s top tier – and this year they are showing they are worthy of the hype.

Under new manager Dean Nicholson and assistant Andrew McBride, the Stan are sat at the top of the Division Two table after collecting 11 wins from their opening 15 league fixtures.

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Throw into the mix a first run to the first round of the FA Vase, and it’s easy to see why many people will believe this is “the year”.

However, they will face a true test of their credentials on Wednesday when Sunderland West End visit Grounsell Park looking to move on from their defeat at Jarrow.

Keith Graydon and Steven Stewart have overseen a promising season in their first full campaign in charge of the club and they could move within two points of their hosts if they can produce a win on Tyneside.

Player to Watch: Andrew Burn (Heaton Stannington)

Marske United v Chester

Competition: Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round

Venue: Mount Pleasant (TS11 7BW)

Date: Saturday 2nd October

Kick-off: 3pm

The FA Cup has provided the platform for what has been a promising opening to the season for Marske United.

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With Adam Boyes firing on all cylinders, the Seasiders plundered their way to 13 goals in two ties against Pickering Town and Seaham Red Star, before producing a stunning performance to end South Shields’ hopes of reaching the first round for a second consecutive season.

Their reward for that win over the Mariners is Saturday’s home tie against National League North club Chester.

Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s side will provide a formidable challenge for Jarrett and his players and they will look to secure a third consecutive win against North East opposition after seeing off Darlington in the last round and Blyth Spartans in a league fixture last weekend.

This one should be an absolute cracker of a tie.

Player to Watch: Adam Boyes (Marske United)

Seaham Red Star v Sunderland RCA

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division One

Venue: IUAA @ Seaham Town Park (SR7 0HP)

Date: Saturday 2nd October

Kick-off: 3pm

It has been a difficult couple of years for Seaham Red Star as the chopping and changing of squads has left them struggling at the wrong end of the Northern League Division One table.

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Slowly but surely, Mark Collingwood’s side seem to be showing signs of life after a number of summer signings hit the ground running this season.

Red Star head into Saturday’s derby with Sunderland RCA looking to stretch their unbeaten run to a sixth game and the form of striker Adam Lennox should give them confidence that they can achieve that feat.

The former Jarrow frontman has six goals in his last three games and fired a hat-trick in Saturday’s 4-2 home win against Whitley Bay.

RCA will arrive looking to shake themselves out of a patch of inconsistency – although their dogged and determined performance in a 2-0 defeat at leaders Consett on Saturday shows they will be a significant threat to Red Star’s recent good form.

Player to Watch: Adam Lennox (Seaham Red Star)

Spennymoor Town v Southport

Competition: Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round

Venue: Brewery Field (DL16 6JN)

Date: Saturday 2nd October

Kick-off: 3pm

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Tommy Miller’s first full season in charge of Spennymoor Town goes from strength-to-strength and the Moors already look a good bet to challenge for the National League North title.

League matters take a back step this weekend as Miller’s men continue their efforts to try and reach the first round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2016 with a home tie against step two rivals Southport.

No side ever really relishes a trip to the Brewery Field and this season is no different with the Moors winning three of their four home games, including an impressive 1-0 win against AFC Fylde that set up Saturday’s tie with the Sandgrounders.

The visitors are sat second from bottom of the National League North table, so Spennymoor will be heavy favourites and with the attacking threat of the likes of Glen Taylor and Rob Ramshaw, they are more than capable of living up to that tag this weekend.

Player to Watch: Glen Taylor (Spennymoor Town)

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Dunston UTS v Ossett United

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League East Division

Venue: UTS Stadium (NE11 9JL)

Date: Saturday 2nd October

Kick-off: 3pm

I don’t mind admitting to having some minor concerns about Dunston UTS as they experienced a poor run of form recently – but that has been washed away by an upturn in results in the last week.

After losing five consecutive games in all competitions and failing to score in four of them, the signing of Bedlington Terriers striker Sado Djalo has helped them to a 6-0 home win against Frickley Athletic and a 3-2 win against Worksop Town in the FA Trophy.

Ossett United will present a tough test of their improvement when the Yorkshire outfit arrive at the UTS Stadium firming in the race for promotion into the Northern Premier League’s top tier.

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Dunston will take confidence from claiming wins in two of their three games against their visitors – and will hope they can continue their recent improvement with a notable win against a much-fancied side.

Player to Watch: Sado Djalo (Dunston UTS)

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