Six out for RCA’s Vase test, but boss Swales says Meadow Park men are ready for ‘huge day’

Sunderland RCA (red) take on Bridlington Town earlier this season in the FA Vase
Sunderland RCA (red) take on Bridlington Town earlier this season in the FA Vase
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The FA Carlsberg Vase takes centre stage tomorrow when nine Ebac Northern League sides will have their sights set on taking another step down the road to Wembley.

Before then, they must overcome opponents in the third round.

Sunderland RCA miss no fewer than six players for their attractive tie against Tadcaster Albion at Meadow Park.

Local lad Jordan Harkess replaces Irishman James Talbot in goal and also out are Callum Hope, Ross McNab, Andrew Brown, Adam Drysdale and James Armstrong.

“James was on loan from Sunderland and would in any case been ineligible, but he has been recalled by the Black Cats,” reported boss Martin Swales, who has re-signed Andy Hunter as goalkeeping cover for Harkess.

“It’s a huge day for the club.

“We’ve never reached the third round before and if we can make it to the next stage, that would create another record.

“We went on an 18-game unbeaten run until we lost to West Auckland and I think we’ve a good chance against Tadcaster – even though I am forced into fielding a weakened team.”

Seaham Red Star have already progressed further than at any time in their history.

Although manager Mark Collingwood is forced into fielding a weakened team at Dunston UTS tomorrow, he insists they are in with a chance of making it into round four.

He said: “We are not going there to be a sideshow for Dunston. We’ll be fighting for a win at the first attempt. It’s unfortunate I’ve got so many lads out, but we’ll give them a good game, that’s for sure”.

Lewis Wing, Craig Lynch and David Palmer are ineligible, Daryl Donnelly is suspended and Darren Reay is also ruled out.

Dunston UTS, who lifted the trophy in 2012, also have a trio of players unable to play. Steve Bowey, Mattie Fisher and Gary Shaw are cup-tied, having played in earlier rounds for their previous clubs.

The biggest crowd of the day will be at Mariners Park, where Second Division leaders South Shields host First Division table-toppers Morpeth Town when friendships and rivalries will be renewed.

Shields boss Jon King was formerly at the helm with Morpeth, whose manager, Nick Gray, played for the Mariners.

“Our friendship will be put on hold when 3 o’clock comes around. We’ve won our last 19 games, but even so I think we are the underdogs, “ said King. “Let’s not forget they are top in Division One and although we lead the Second Division, there’s a big gap.

“This is the biggest game of the season for us so far, by a mile.”

King is keeping his fingers crossed that former Sunderland star Julio Arca will come through a fitness test, but he knows he is definitely minus Lewis Teasdale and Lewis Galpin.

Jonny Wightman, Daryl Hall and Adam Sakr are all available as King and his players look to make it 20 wins on the bounce.

Out to stop them will be Morpeth, who go without just one player. It could be the end of next month before Chris Jewels can feature again.

Gray, who has been in charge at Craik Park for five years, said: “They are on a fantastic run and, with home advantage and a huge following to urge them on, are the favourites, but ,in my book, it’s all to play for.”

Holders North Shields have Runcorn Town from the North West Counties League Premier Division visiting the Daren Persson Stadium, but three of last May’s Wembley heroes are ruled out.

Adam Forster, John Grey and Denver Morris are injured, while Brad Brooking is ineligible and Jordan Summerly banned.

There’s an all-Northern League clash at Marske United, who host Team Northumbria, while Newton Aycliffe host Atherton Colliers from the North West Counties League’s Premier Division.