Mark Carruthers: All eyes on Gateshead v Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup as our non-league expert picks his top five games to watch

Our non-league expert Mark Carruthers returns with his pick of the games from the non-league and FA Cup scene this week.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 2:22 pm
Five games to watch, via Mark Carruthers.

Gateshead v Charlton Athletic

Date: Friday 3rd December

Competition: Emirates FA Cup Second Round

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Venue: International Stadium

Kick-off Time: 7.45pm

There is only one place to start in this week’s Five to Watch and that is with a big occasion for Gateshead.

League One club Charlton Athletic will be the visitors to the International Stadium for a televised FA Cup second round tie against Mike Williamson’s side.

It provides the Heed with an opportunity to showcase how far their club has risen under the control of the supporter-led consortium and gives a talented Gateshead squad a chance to test themselves against Football League opponents.

Despite the live television coverage, it seems highly likely there will be strong crowd that will throw their support behind the Heed’s attempts to pull of a major shock.

No matter what happens on Friday night, this has already been a remarkable run to the second round of the competition and the season offers much promise for everyone of a Gateshead persuasion.

But that won’t stop them having a good go at bloodying the noses of a Charlton side that claimed a narrow league win at Sunderland in October.

Player to Watch: Greg Olley (Gateshead)

Consett v Whickham

Date: Friday 3rd December

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division One

Venue: Belle View

Kick-off Time: 7.30pm

Consett’s season has been largely positive and they head into Friday night’s home clash with a rapidly improving Whickham sat at the top of the Northern League Division One table.

However, they were dealt a blow this week when manager Terry Mitchell and assistant Graeme Coulson were tempted away by an offer from National League North club Blyth Spartans.

Andy Coyles and Ben Cole will oversee their first game as “temporary” management team of the Steelmen and they face a difficult test against a Whickham side looking for their fifth consecutive win.

It does not seem too long ago that we were saying the Lang Jacks could be looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone - but four consecutive wins under new manager Tony Fawcett means they are looking firmly above them now.

Make no mistake, Consett are still one of the best sides in the division, despite Mitchell and Coulson’s departure.

But they will have to be at their best to overcome a Whickham side that a high on confidence.

Player to Watch: Luke Carr (Consett)

Dunston UTS v Bridlington Town

Date: Saturday 4th December

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League East Division

Venue: UTS Stadium

Kick-off Time: 3pm

I have watched Dunston UTS on a number of occasions this season and they have improved with every game.

During the first month of the campaign I watched Shildon take all three points from their visit to the UTS Stadium - but that proved to be the low before a number of highs for Chris Swailes side.

They return to league action this weekend after a two-week break and will host bottom of the table Bridlington Town.

The visitors arrive in the North East with just two wins from their 16 league games so far this season and became the latest victims of a prolific Marske United side when Carl Jarrett’s side inflicted a 5-0 home defeat on them last time out.

The loss of striker Sado Djalo was a blow - but Dunston are more than capable of claiming a win that should maintain their place in the top five of a highly competitive division.

Player to Watch: Liam Thear (Dunston UTS)

Sunderland RCA v North Shields

Date: Saturday 4th December

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division One

Venue: Sunderland LGV Park

Kick-off Time: 3pm

North Shields take their promotion challenge to Sunderland RCA as they look to keep up the pressure on leaders Consett and second placed West Auckland Town.

Although, the pressure could be on the Robins with both sides above them in the table in action on Friday night.

They face an RCA side that has battled through a horrendous run of injuries to claim hard-earned wins against West Auckland and Guisborough Town in their previous outings.

Mark Davison looks likely to be key for Steve Riley’s men and the game could be decided on whether he can outscore North Shields counterpart Dan Wilson.

Both players are in form, both are rated amongst the best in the league, and their performances on Saturday could well decide the destination of all three points.

Player to Watch: Mark Davison (Sunderland RCA)

Boldon CA v Sunderland West End

Date: Saturday 4th December

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division Two

Venue: The Villa

Kick-off Time: 3pm

It has been an awful week for Boldon CA after a season full of promising highs was hit by serious storm damage caused by Storm Arwen last weekend.

At the time, there were doubts over whether or not their meeting with Sunderland West End would go ahead - but those doubts seem to have been cleared.

Now is the time for the local community to rally behind the club in their time of need - and I am sure they will.

On the field, this meeting of two former Wearside League rivals should promise one thing - goals, and plenty of them.

Both sides already have over a half-century of goals this season and Boldon are the division’s most proflic scorers with 73 goals - one more than leaders Heaton Stannington.

Player to Watch: Levi Collins (Boldon CA)