Fringe benefits for Neil Hixon’s RCA

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SUNDERLAND RCA take a break from STL Northern League action tomorrow, with manager Neil Hixon giving some fringe players a run-out at Bedlington Terriers in the first round of the FA Carlsberg Vase.

Hixon, though, is still desperate to win the tie.

He said: “I’ve got to give three or four lads who turn up every week a chance but I’m not taking anything away from the importance of the game.

“It’s important for the club, players and fans that we go through but I’m taking nothing for granted even though we are favourites.

“You only have to look at last week to see what can happen in cup ties. Few people gave Hebburn Town or Ashington a chance but they both won in the FA Cup.

“We’ll have to be at the top of our game but away form has been great and I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t win.”

Hixon cannot call upon Ian Maddison, who will be out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury while Kieron Edwards is working.

Bedlington Terrier’s boss Tony Lowery has much bigger selection problems to resolve with a number of players doubtful.

Stephen Harrison, Chris Carr, Craig James, Dean Douglas, Mark Convery and Stephen Richardson have all missed recent games.

“Injuries have taken their toll on our results and I’ll need to have a roll call but one thing’s for sure, I won’t take chances.

“RCA have been in blistering form, especially away from home with eight wins and a draw, so obviously we’ve got a huge task on our hands,” said Lowery, who steered Bedlington to five consecutive championships during the period 1997-2002 and also to a Vase final when they lost by the only goal to Tiverton Town.

Hebburn Town, who next week meet Gateshead in the last qualifying round of the FA Cup, hope to complete another giant-killing act at the expense of Newcastle Benfield.

“Following last week’s magnificent victory at Radcliffe Borough, we beat Second Division team Northumbria on Monday night. Tomorrow is another massive day for the club,” said manager Paul Bennett, who will have Jak Wells in goal for the cup-tied Dan Regan.

Consett are at Guisborough Town unable to name the former Blyth Spartans player Michael Pearson or John Jo Dickman but Jamie Poole, who hasn’t played since the second week of the season, and Marc Walton could play a part.

Following their recent improved form South Shields go to Billingham Town with renewed confidence. Goalkeeper James Briggs and Glen Butterworth miss out for the Teessiders who have an injury doubt for Michael Dunwell.

Easington Colliery will again have assistant manager Stephen Riley in charge for the visit of Whickham in the Second Division.

Following the departure of boss Andy Colledge, the Colliers were unable to fulfil their fixture at Gillford Park last week but secretary Alan Purvis confirms that tomorrow’s game at Welfare Park definitely goes ahead.

He said: “We just couldn’t assemble a squad to travel to Carlisle but we’ve signed Ross Galley, Johnny Hayes and Lee Wright. In addition, Danny Flounders is fit so we’ll have a good squad.”

Purvis paid tribute to Colledge and confirmed that the club is looking to appoint a new manager as soon as possible.

“Stephen Riley doesn’t want the job on a permanent basis but would like to remain as number two,” added Purvis.

Horden CW entertain Northallerton Town and it’s a case of two in and two out for manager Brian Honour. Lloyd Evans and Jordan Lavery cannot play but Jake Cairns and Chris Freeman return.

Chester-le-Street are second bottom but buoyant ahead of their visit to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion after defeating Ashington in the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup on Tuesday night.

“I said when I took over a month ago that I would be fair to all the lads. At Ashington, I fielded what I now consider to be our best side and hopefully we can build on the performance,” said manager Anth Smith.

Ryton expect to include recent signings Adam Rowntree and Paul Henderson Reay but Graham Wilson is suspended.

Seaham Red Star have Michael McEwan back at home to Alnwick Town and Birtley Town, who have shot up to third top, host Washington aiming to extend a seven-game unbeaten sequence.