Washington’s freefall in the league puzzles Spendley

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WASHINGTON secretary Barry Spendley is a puzzled man – and who can blame him?

Only a few weeks ago the Newtowners were third in the STL Northern League Second Division, just a point off the top, but since then they have been in freefall.

Six games have yielded only a single point with Saturday’s six-goal thrashing by Seaham Red Star the low point of a topsy-turvey season.

“We’ve still got most of the lads who gave us such an encouraging start and who played in a 4-0 win over Red Star at our place,” said Spendley.

“How can you explain beating them so easily one week and a couple of weeks later being outplayed.

“We haven’t suddenly become a bad team though, and perhaps a couple of decent results will see us back on track,” observed Spendley ahead of tonight’s Durham Challenge Cup First Round tie at Ryhope CW.

Washington miss Alan Oliver and John Lydon but Ian Lee could be available.

In contrast to their opponents’ form, Martin Swales’ side is riding high in the Wearside League with just one defeat all season.

Martin Metcalfe returns but Liam Dunn, Richard Jordan, Liam Cox and James Dunn are all rated doubtful.

Horden CW boss Brian Honour has forcast for some weeks that the tide was about to turn and he was delighted with Saturday’s performance and result against Birtley Town. The Colliers host Crook Town and Honour will decide on his starting line-up just before kick-off.

Chester-le-Street face a tough task at Newton Aycliffe, who ended West Auckland’s 14-match unbeaten sequence at the weekend.

Robbie Draper, Brett Gallatt and Danny Lay, who missed Saturday’s match, could all return for the Cestrians.

A big gate is expected at Heritage Park for the derby between Bishop Auckland and West Auckland, while Spennymoor Town host Billingham Synthonia.

Easington Colliery have not found it easy in recent weeks and new manager Mark Proudlock could again find it difficult in the STL Northern League Second Division game against table-topping Team Northumbria.

The Colliers missed several players on Saturday when they were hammered 6-1 by Northallerton and secretary Alan Purvis reports that a number of newcomers have been signed in a bid to boost the squad.