SUNDERLAND RCA manager Neil Hixon has vowed to erase the memory of Saturday’s humiliating defeat by Ashington when the Wearsiders line-up against Tow Law Town in tonight’s Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup-tie at the Ironworks Road ground.
He said: “I was without seven players at the week-end, including six who started the previous game with Spennymoor Town. We held them to a draw so we didn’t suddenly become a bad team overnight.
“It was a case of playing anybody in any position but we’ll be back to almost full-strength tonight and one things for sure, we will give them a good game.”
Hixon’s only absentee is honeymooner Jamie Fryett and a big plus is the return of captain Brian Close, who has been out for several weeks.
“Brian has been a massive miss and his influence will be of tremendous benefit,” added Hixon.
Seaham Red Star boss Mark Collingwood is also looking for a big improvement when they tackle Durham City at New Ferens Park.
“We need to regain some respect following an awful performance at North Shields where we conceded seven goals,” he said.
“Everything that could go wrong did so, starting an hour before kick-off when two players were forced out of the squad.
“I only had one recognised striker and had to play midfielder Liam Clark, signed from Birtley Town, up front.
“Hopefully, Paul Cane and Dan Olusogo will spearhead the attack tonight when I’ve also got Luke Proctor back but three players are out. Chris Scott shouldn’t have played on Saturday and he aggravated a groin injury while Carl Thorp and Mark Catcheside are working.
“Peter Bryson is doubtful and I may give a run-out to a couple of squad players.”
Birtley Town will now have home advantage over Celtic Nation. The decision to make the switch was made yesterday because it seemed unlikely that the Cumbrians’ ground would be fit.
“It was a generous gesture on their part. They could simply have left the decision to the referee and had he called the game off, we would have had to go there next week,” said Birtley secretary Trevor Armstrong.
The move was also warmly welcomed by ENL secretary Tony Golightly who said: “I am grateful to the Celtic Nation committee which means we save a further postponement.”
There’s no doubt that the switch will favour Birtley who will now be able to field a near-full strength side. Their only absentees are Luke Wilson with an ankle injury and the suspended Dan Smith.
Several players who would have been unable to make the long journey, are now available.
Chester-le-Street face a difficult task in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup even though they are at home to Crook Town.
“Crook have started to click and they scored five goals at the week-end,” observed manager Colin Wake.
“They are up to fifth and only Ryhope CW have scored more times so we will need to be at the top of our game, which we weren’t on Saturday, even though we held third-placed Darlington RA to a draw.”
The Cestrians cannot call upon injured pair Calvin Gowland and Michael Robson and Tommy Alderson starts a six match ban. Michael Patterson returns to the squad.
H Silksworth Rangers and Ryhope CW will tonight stage a charity match at Welfare Park for Ryhope youngster Jack Baird.
“Jack isn’t well and needs treatment so we are hoping to raise a good sum to help him,” said Rangers secretary David Steele, who reports that the opportunity will be taken to take a look at several potential new players.
Ryhope CW manager Martin Swales intends to field a strong side.