Furness ready for physical challenge

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DURHAM City manager Adam Furness reckons his defenders will have to cope with a big, strong, direct team when they line up against Ashington in tonight’s EBAC Northern League First Division game at Woodhorn Lane.

He said: “If we can deal defensively with their threats, I’m confident we’ll be able to play to our strengths and return with a positive result following a disappointing performance on the opening day of the season.

“I thought our fitness levels were good and we held the upper hand for most of the second half against Newcastle Benfield but we’ve got to be more ruthless in the top half.”

Ashington suffered a heavy defeat in their first game but were up against Spennymoor Town, who are among the favourites to clinch the championship.

The Colliers will need to give a fitness test to defender Craig Scott, who was sidelined at the weekend.

Sunderland RCA host Benfield at Meadow Lane and boss Neil Hixon will give players who didn’t figure in the goalless draw at West Auckland Town, a chance to prove their worth.

“We’ve six players out so it’s going to be tough. They recruited some very good players during the summer and look as if they will be a much stronger side than they were last season,” said Hixon.

Spennymoor Town meet neighbours West Auckland Town at Dean Street when manager Jason Ainsley welcomes back Lee Kerr from suspension. Gavin Cogden, who scored one of his team’s four goals on Saturday, is struggling with a groin strain and definitely out are Chay Liddle and Michael Reay.

Whitley Bay, who were thumped 5-1 by Dunston UTS, will again be greatly under-strength against Bedlington Terriers at Hillheads. Ashley Davis, Craig McFarlane, Josh Carmichael, Brad Brooking, Liam McBryde, Chris Reid, James Novak and Ian Watson are all out.

Bedlington opened with a surprise victory and will be hoping that 17-year old James Loughborough, who was outstanding in midfield, will come through a late fitness test on his hamstring injury. Injury. though. keeps out Colin Morton but Dylan Williamson and Andy Leason are added to the squad.

In Division Two, Chester-le-Street travel to Thornaby looking for their first point, but they miss Michael Hepplewhite and Andrew Grant-Soulsby.

Manager Colin Wake is hopeful of Evan Dixon, Jake Henderson, Luke Curry and Liam Young making the squad.

A close encounter is anticipated between Jarrow Roofing and revitalised Seaham Red Star. Mark Collingwood’s new-look side made a winning start but Roofing, who go without Jamie Marshall and Darren Wray, went down by an only goal to North Shields.

Washington meet newcomers Willington at the Nissan Sports Complex with Scott Young expected to replace the injured Adam McCann in goal. He is one of three new signings, the others being Brid Thompson, Alan Golightly and Robert McKenzie.

H Birtley Town came from behind to defeat Stokesley SC with a late goal in last night’s Second Division game.

The visitors went ahead on 15 minutes when Nathan Graham lobbed Birtley goalkeeper Jordan Harkness.

Immediately on resuming, Curtis Coppen headed wide of visiting keeper Tom Laverick and with only three minutes remaining, Birtley clinched all three points with a long-range shot from Rhys Noble.