Spendley hopes Washington can make another final at last

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WASHINGTON will be fighting for a place in the final of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup when they line up against Heaton Stannington at the Nissan Sports Complex tonight (7.30 pm).

The last time the Newtowners played in a final was more than 30 years ago and it’s a game which secretary Barry Spendley remembers well.

“It was the Wearside League Cup final and I scored the only goal for Steels SC. I reckon I still haven’t been forgiven!” quipped Spendley, who has been with Washington for almost three decades, first as a player and more recently as secretary.

Manager Stephen Hutchinson will have to get along without two of his regular squad, who are ineligible.

Mark Catcheside played in the competition for Seaham Red Star while Michael Roberts was involved with Chester le Street. Other than the two enforced absentees, Hutchinson is expected to have a full squad available.

Sunderland RCA, who claimed a crucial victory at the weekend, can take another step towards safety in the First Division relegation battle when they host Penrith, who are just one point and one place above them.

Manager David Lee is hopeful of Kyle Morris being available. He made his comeback, playing 20 minutes against Billingham Town on Saturday and came through unscathed.

A doubt, though, surrounds the fitness of Phil Horsman who missed the weekend game with a foot injury.

Secretary Rob Jones confirmed that he is trying to complete the signing of Shaun McAvoy from Chester-le-Street.

“Both the club and the player have agreed to the move so there shouldn’t be any last-minute hitches,” said Jones.

RCA will be looking for another flying start tonight. Amazingly they have scored within the first two minutes in three of their last four games.

“It’s almost unbelievable but the recorded times were 23 seconds, 25 seconds and 90 seconds,” added Jones.

A close result is on the cards when Durham City meet West Auckland Town at New Ferens Park. The Citizens are comfortably placed eighth top. West are sixth and 16 points adrift of leaders Celtic Nation, but have no fewer than nine games in hand on the Cumbrians. They’ve also played considerably fewer matches than the other four teams above them.

Third-placed Spennymoor Town will also be looking to press their championship challenge at the expense of relegated Billingham Town who, despite showing improvement in recent weeks, start very much the underdogs.

In Division Two, the derby at Chester Moor Park sees the return of Paul Bryson and Stuart Sherwood with Birtley Town. The pair, at different times, were in charge at Chester-le-Street.

Manager Colin Wake is likely to name the same squad which was on duty for the last two games.

Alnwick Town have the chance to put light between them and second-bottom Brandon United when they host Norton and Stockton Ancients while Thornaby can move into the top half of the table if they defeat Whickham.