IT’S been a good week for Sunderland RCA with two of their three rivals for the STL Northern League Championship both conceding points.
Ahead of tomorrow’s game at Norton and Stockton Ancients, the Wearsiders have a four-point lead over West Auckland Town but the South West Durham side have three games in hand.
“West and Spennymoor Town both dropped points in the midweek programme which just goes to show that anything can happen,” said manager Neil Hixon, who will not finalise his line-up till shortly before kick-off.
“I know we have fulfilled more fixtures than the pair and Dunston UTS but we’ve got the points on the board.”
Norton cannot call upon goalkeeper Jim Provett and Chris Porter will deputise. Defender Andrew Burton and striker James Magowan are also named.
With West Auckland and Dunston UTS on FA Carlsberg Vase duty, the Wearsiders and Spennymoor will aim to pull away from the pair.
Following their shock defeat at Consett on Wednesday, Moors need to immediately bounce back but they could find it difficult at Newton Aycliffe who continue to enjoy a successful first season in the top flight.
For the first time in years, Whitley Bay have nothing but pride to play for but Jarrow Roofing are desperate for all three points when the team meet at Hillheads.
Darren Reay, Danny Carson and Jamie Marshall come into manager Richie McLoughlin’s plans but Kevin Davision and David Anderson are out.
Whitley Bay boss Ian Chandler wants his side to put behind them recent indifferent form and finish the season on a high.
He is unable to name the suspended Lee Paul Scroggins. David Couldon, meanwhile, is not yet quite ready to make his comeback from injury.
Ashington missed the chance to go fifth top when they lost in midweek and they won’t find it easy at Consett who eased their relegation fears with an unexpected victory over Spennymoor Town on Wednesday night.
Steelmen’s boss Kenny Lindoe delays announcing his squad but his opposite number Gary Middleton has Andrew Dugdale suspended and Phil Bell injured.
With Stokesley SC already relegated, several sides are battling against joining them in Division Two.
There is a crunch fixture on Teesside between Billingham Town, who are fifth from the basement and second from bottom Tow Law Town.
Until last week, Penrith looked favourites to go down but back-to-back wins have lifted them out of the bottom three and they go to Billingham Synthonia with renewed confidence.
H Two sides will be flying the flag in the FA Carlsberg Vase semi finals.
Dunston UTS have home advantage in the first leg against Staveley MW from Chesterfield and manager Billy Irwin, who has seen his opponents play on two occasions, is confident they can take a lead into the second leg.
His only absentee is Lee McAndrew who is recovering from a knee operation sustained when he collided with the spectator barrier.
West Auckland Town are in Kent for their tie with Herne Bay.
Unfortunately, neither John Campbell nor Elliott Gardiner can play because they figured in earlier rounds for Bedlington Terriers and Newton Aycliffe, respectively.