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Mark Carruthers: Five North East non-league games to watch this weekend

There are a whole host of eye-catching games taking place across the North East non-league scene this weekend.

By Mark Carruthers
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:04 pm

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The Sunderland Echo picks out some of the best in our weekly Five to Watch feature.

Darlington v Blyth Spartans

Venue: Blackwell Meadows

Date: Saturday 5th March

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Competition: Vanarama National League North

Kick-off: 3pm

A good old North East derby kicks off this week’s Five to Watch as National League North rivals Darlington and Blyth Spartans meet for the second time this season.

If their previous meeting at Croft Park is anything to go by, Saturday’s game could be well worth a watch for any supporters looking for a football fix this weekend.

Spartans looked to be inflicting more pain on former manager Alun Armstrong as they took a two-goal lead into half-time against an out-of-form Quakers.

But Darlington produced a much-improved second-half display and roared back into the to earn an invaluable point that restored some belief and kickstarted their season.

It is Darlington that go into Saturday’s game in better form and they will be confident they extend their recent run to four wins in their last five games against Terry Mitchell’s men.

Player to watch: Will Hatfield (Darlington)

Gateshead v Kidderminster Harriers

Venue: International Stadium

Date: Saturday 5th March

Competition: Vanarama National League North

Kick-off: 3pm

We will know a lot more about Gateshead bid to return to the National League when they host title rivals Kidderminster Harriers in a crucial game this weekend.

Both sides go into the game on the back of underwhelming results - although Gateshead’s point at struggling AFC Telford United deserves more credit than it received after they earned a draw despite falling below their usual standards.

Harriers are one of the form sides in the division and their FA Cup exploits have been well-versed after they pushed Premier League club West Ham United all of the way recently.

But they showed some fragility as they were beaten at bottom of the table Farsley Celtic last weekend and they will be looking for a reaction on Tyneside on Saturday.

An intriguing title mix is only added to by second-placed Brackley Town’s trip to play-off contenders Southport.

A fascinating weekend lies in wait.

Player to watch: Adam Campbell (Gateshead)

Stockton Town v Liversedge

Venue: Map Group UK Stadium

Date: Saturday 5th March

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League East

Kick-off: 3pm

Stockton Town are enjoying an impressive first season in step four of the non-league pyramid.

The Anchors’ rise up the non-league pyramid has been one of the stories of North East non-league football over the last decade and they will be confident their tale is not over yet.

Despite being without a win in their last three games, Michael Dunwell’s side remain in the East Division play-off places as they prepare for one of their biggest tests of the season.

Liversedge are sat in second place in the table ahead of their trip to the Map Group UK Stadium and have lost just one of their 26 league games so far this season.

On their home pitch, in front of a strong home support, Stockton will be a considerable threat and they possess more than enough quality to double that loss tally this weekend.

Player to watch: Shane Henry (Stockton Town)

Ryhope CW v North Shields

Venue: Ryhope Recreation Ground

Date: Saturday 5th March

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division One

Kick-off: 3pm

This fixture has already taken place this season - although a floodlight failure brought a premature end to the game and forced this weekend’s meeting.

North Shields could and probably should have a sense of grievance over the decision to replay as they held a 2-0 lead when the game was cut short with just 12 minutes remaining.

That said, they are one of the most focused sides in Division One and they make the return to Ryhope knowing they will have to be at their best to gain all three points.

Ryhope are enjoying a wonderful season and are in contention for a promotion place - a fact only enhanced by their impressive midweek win at second placed Thornaby.

Player to watch: James Ellis (Ryhope CW)

Jarrow v Boldon CA

Venue: Perth Green

Date: Saturday 5th March

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division Two

Kick-off: 3pm

This one is a South Tyneside derby with plenty of angles to consider for anyone visiting Perth Green this weekend.

Boldon CA have embraced life in the Northern League and have flourished at a higher level as they push for a play-off place in Division Two.

David Crumbie’s men are currently sat in fourth place in the table after an impressive win at leaders Heaton Stannington and collecting a valuable three points in last weekend’s home game against struggling Brandon United.

But they head into Saturday’s short trip to Perth Green looking to avenge one of the few low points of their season after Jarrow claimed a dramatic win in the reverse fixture back in August.

A last-gasp Gary Shaw goal earned the bragging rights for Scott Oliver and Dave Bell’s side and they will hope they can repeat that trick as Jarrow aim to complete the league double over their local rivals and boost their mini upturn in form.

Player to watch: Levi Collins (Boldon CA)