Washington look to future ... and cup chance

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WASHINGTON are hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself when they meet Ryton and Crawcrook Albion in the quarter-final of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup at the Nissan Sports Complex tonight (7.30 pm).

Last season, the Newtowners went out of the competition at this stage and didn’t win one of their remaining league games.

“We are a much better side and I’ll be disappointed if we do not reach the semis. Ryton are bottom, so we’ve got to be in with a chance,” claimed secretary Barry Spendley.

After being involved in a draw at the week-end when they were without a number of players who were en route to Wembley, Washington will be much stronger tonight.

Goalkeeper Neal Atkinson, Paul Kane, Mark Davison and Nathan Johnson come into the plans of manager Stephen Hutchinson but two players are cup-tied.

Mark Catcheside played in an earlier round for Seaham Red Star and Michael Roberts was involved with Chester-le-Street. The winners of tonight’s tie, which may attract a bumper crowd, will be at home to Heaton Stannington.

In Division One of the Ebac Northern League, Sunderland RCA desperately need three points against Marske United at Meadow Park.

The Wearsiders are embroiled with several clubs to avoid joining Billingham Town, and almost certainly Hebburn Town, in Division Two next season.

“It’s another vital game but then they all will be between now and the end of the season. Marske are one of the teams fighting for survival and a win will lift us to within a point of them,” observed manager David Lee.

RCA miss Callum Patton, Jack Stanger and Andrew Brown, who are working, while Ross Wilkinson faces a fitness test.

Wilkinson, who missed the week-end fixture at Billingham Synthonia, has been on loan from Shildon for several weeks but it’s expected that he will be recalled after Saturday’s game.

Steven Baynes, who was away on Saturday, is named and it’s likely he will line-up either at left back or in a left midfield position.

Despite claiming a point on Saturday which took their total for the season to a miserly 11 out of a possible 99, Hebburn Town look doomed.

Scott Oliver’s side faces another difficult task when they host fifth-top Ashington who are going all out for a top six finish. Colliers’ boss Gary Middleton reports that he will have a near full strength side on duty, his only absentee being influential striker Marc Walton.

With Billingham Town already relegated, Morpeth Town will hope to pick up vital points when they travel to Teesside.

The Northumbrians reached the last 16 of the FA Carlsberg Vase for the first time in their history but have been unable to replicate the cup form in the league and they are also too near the bottom for comfort.

Whitley Bay’s new manager Leaon Ryan made a winning start in his first game in charge and will be looking for back-to-back victories when Crook Town visit Hillheads.

Bishop Auckland, comfortably placed in mid table, cannot name Dan Hawkins or Sean Tarling against Newton Aycliffe at Heritage Park while Billingham Synthonia will be looking to consolidate ninth spot in what promises to be a difficult game at Celtic Nation, who have a six points lead over Shildon at the top of the table.

In Division Two, a couple of teams challenging for promotion will aim to push their claims. Jarrow Roofing, now only five points behind leaders North Shields, are at Whickham where manager Richie McLoughlin hopes to field a strong line-up.

Fourth-top Seaham Red Star, who have hit form in recent weeks, are at mid-table Tow Law Town and just one point will lift them into third spot.

At the other end of the table, third bottom Brandon United travel to Darlington RA, who have nothing but pride to play for while Northallerton Town are also now virtually out of the promotion race ahead of their game against Whitehaven in Cumbria.