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Mark Carruthers' Five to Watch: Three North East derbies and two crucial Northern League promotion clashes

Three North East derbies and two crucial Northern League promotion clashes come under the radar of the Sunderland Echo’s Five to Watch feature this week.

By Mark Carruthers
Friday, 18th February 2022, 5:12 pm

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Gateshead v Spennymoor Town

Venue: International Stadium

Date: Saturday 19th February

Mark Carruthers' Five to Watch.

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Competition: Vanarama National League North

Kick-off: 3pm

Gateshead will take on Spennymoor Town at the International Stadium on Saturday in the latest of a series of North East derbies in non-league’s second-tier.

The Heed are in fine form and head into the game sat on top of the National League North table following last weekend’s comfortable win at Alfreton Town.

The good feeling around the club was further enhanced by the news key players Cedwyn Scott, Macaulay Langstaff and Greg Olley have all agreed to extend their current contracts and the trio will be key factors in the meeting with the Moors.

However, the Moors will travel in confidence after notching a fine win on Tyneside last season and they still harbour hopes of making a late push for the play-offs before the end of the current campaign.

Player to watch: Greg Olley (Gateshead)

Dunston UTS v Stockton Town

Venue: UTS Stadium

Date: Saturday 19th February

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League Premier Division

Kick-off: 3pm

Stockton Town will hope to complete a league double over former Northern League rivals Dunston when they travel to the UTS Stadium on Saturday.

They make the trip on the back of a rare defeat after they emerged pointless from last weekend’s visit to Pontefract Collieries.

But with the likes of Kevin Hayes and Michael Roberts in fine form, they will provide a severe test for a Dunston side that are still hopeful of securing a place in the play-offs.

Chris Swailes’ side have shown their top five credentials in recent weeks with a number of notable performances and they will hope former Sunderland academy striker Michael Fowler can continue his rich vein of form to help them edge what should be a cracking game between two attack-minded sides.

Player to watch: Kevin Hayes (Stockton Town)

Hebburn Town v Shildon

Venue: Green Energy Sports Ground

Date: Saturday 19th February

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League Premier Division

Kick-off: 3pm

A largely promising season has started to slide for Shildon and they travel to Hebburn Town this weekend looking for a first win in five games in all competitions.

Despite their recent downturn in form, Daniel Moore’s men remain in the East Division play-off places and they will be hopeful of extending their hosts own poor run of form.

Hebburn are currently sat in the bottom half of the table after last weekend’s goalless draw at Tadcaster Albion and they will also be after revenge following a 1-0 away defeat inflicted on them by Shildon earlier in the season.

The two sides were promoted from the Northern League last season and have endured very different experiences when it comes to life at a higher level.

Despite that, Saturday’s meeting feels unpredictable and it would be no surprise to see a tight and nervy affair at the Green Energy Sports Ground.

Player to watch: Michael Sweet (Shildon)

Newton Aycliffe v North Shields

Venue: Moore Lane

Date: Saturday 19th February

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division One

Kick-off: 3pm

North Shields return to Northern League action following their 2-0 win against Rugby Town in an FA Vase fifth round tie last weekend.

Marc Nash’s side have enjoyed a very promising season on a number of fronts and also have a Northumberland Senior Cup semi-final against Newcastle United U23s on the horizon.

They still remain very much in the hunt for the Northern League Division One title - or at very least promotion into the Northern Premier League - and head to Newton Aycliffe looking to claim a win against another side with eyes on the top five.

Third placed Aycliffe currently sit one place and one point ahead of their visitors - although the Robins do hold five games in hand on Brian Atkinson’s side.

The former Sunderland and Darlington midfielder is starting to get to grips with his squad since he succeeded Colin Stromsoy earlier in the season and they have won their last three league games without conceding a goal.

This is, without question, the game of the Northern League weekend and one that could prove pivotal in the push for promotion.

Player to watch: Dan Wilson (North Shields)

Heaton Stannington v Boldon CA

Venue: Grounsell Park

Date: Saturday 19th February

Competition: Ebac Northern League Division Two

Kick-off: 3pm

Despite their blistering form, Division Two leaders Heaton Stannington and play-off challengers Boldon CA head into Saturday’s meeting at Grounsell Park on the back of rare defeats.

The Stan fell to a surprise 2-1 loss at Willington last weekend, whilst Boldon were edged out by fellow top-five challengers Billingham Synthonia at the Villa.

That said, both sides have responded to defeats in fine style recently and that means this game could provided fireworks for anyone making their way to Grounsell Park.

Goals seem guaranteed with the division’s top goalscorer Levi Collins in the Boldon squad and the Stan’s Liam McBryde leading the chasing pack.

But attacking threat is far from limited to their two star strikers with the two sides netting 182 goals in their 61 league games so far this season.

Stretch that statistic to include goals conceded and the net has bulged 274 times in their combined league games.

That’s entertainment!

Player to watch: Liam McBryde (Heaton Stannington)