Washington eye place in semi-final

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WASHINGTON are hoping for a big gate at the Nissan sports complex tonight when they line up against Ryton and Crawcrook Albion in the quarter-final of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup, writes Malcolm Pratt.

“It’s a really big game for us and it’s a long time since we reached the last eight of any cup competition,” observed secretary Barry Spendley.

“Even when we were doing very well in the league, we were always terrible in the cups but tonight we have the chance to reach the semi finals.”

The form book points to another win for the Newtowners, who have come on leaps and bounds since appointing Stephen Hutchinson as manager.

When he took over, they were favourites for the drop, having gained just one point from 10 games but following Saturday’s victory they are now mid-table.

Hutchinson, though, will have to get along without at least three players. Mark Catcheside played for Seaham Red Star in an earlier round and Michael Roberts’ involvement with Chester-le-Street also makes him ineligible.

Injury sidelines Paul Baker and a doubt surrounds the fitness of Paul Kane, who missed Saturday’s game.

North Shields will aim to take a step towards a league and cup double when they visit Darlington RA. The Robins command an eight-point lead at the top of the table and following 12 consecutive victories, start favourites at Brinkburn Road.

Heaton Stannington are also challenging for one of the three promotion places but they could find it difficult even though they have home advantage over Thornaby, who have improved considerably in recent games.

Sunderland RCA boss David Lee reports that work commitments prevent three players from travelling to Penrith for the Ebac Northern League First Division game.

Callum Patton, Andrew Brown and Jack Stanger are definite absentees while it’s uncertain whether Danny Wray will be able to play but Steven Baynes could make his comeback after being sidelined for three weeks with a foot injury.

Following their shock defeat at the hands of Bedlington Terriers at the weekend, Ashington will be looking to bounce back against Consett at Woodhorn Lane and resurrect their challenge for a top-six finish.

Bishop Auckland host Marske United at Heritage Park and although 10th, they have had a number of games postponed and have several matches in hand on seven of the teams above them. In fact, no team has played fewer games.

In Division Two, Jarrow Roofing will go second ahead of Seaham Red Star and West Allotment Celtic if they beat Whickham at The Glebe.

At the other end of the table, Alnwick Town are at home to Brandon United with the two sides just outside the drop zone.