Mark Carruthers: SIX non-league games to watch New Year weekend

Our non-league expert returns with the six non-league games to watch this weekend.

Thursday, 30th December 2021, 3:57 pm
Mark Carruthers' pick of the best games to watch.

South Shields v Scarborough Athletic

Date: Saturday 1st January 2021

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League Premier Division

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Venue: 1st Cloud Arena

Kick-off Time: 3pm

2022 is an open book as far as South Shields are concerned and the first page will be written when Scarborough Athletic visit the 1st Cloud Arena.

The Mariners - despite a patch on inconsistent form - remain in the hunt for promotion into the National League North and head into the new year sat five points behind leaders Matlock Town.

Getting the year off to a winning start would provide a massive boost with a number of fellow promotion contenders facing challenging fixtures on Saturday.

Fixtures between the two sides are normally eventful affairs and there is nothing to suggest that this game will follow a similar pattern.

Player to Watch: JJ Hooper (South Shields)

Morpeth Town v Whitby Town

Date: Saturday 1st January 2021

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League Premier Division

Venue: Craik Park

Kick-off Time: 3pm

It has been a mixed year for Morpeth Town but they are certainly ending it on a high.

The Boxing Day draw at Scarborough means the Highwaymen have gone on a remarkable run of form consisting of just two defeats in 20 games under Craig Lynch.

Another North Yorkshire side lie in wait this weekend as Whitby Town visit Craik Park and Lynch’s men will be confident they can take their form into the new year as they eye a late run for the NPL Premier Division play-offs.

Whitby will provide a stern test and they have made serious progress in the early part of the season.

Anything could happen in this one.

Player to Watch: Liam Noble (Morpeth Town)

Stockton Town v Shildon

Date: Saturday 1st January 2021

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League East Division

Venue: Map Group UK Stadium

Kick-off Time: 3pm

Stockton Town and Shildon were Northern League rivals when 2021 got underway - but now they are both loving life at a higher level.

Stockton’s dramatic and, it must be said, remarkable win at neighbours Marske United firmly implanted them in the play-off places and they prepare for Saturday’s home game with Shildon sat six points behind their visitors.

The Railwaymen have lost just three of their 18 league games in their first months as a step four clubs and they will know they have to be at their very best to extend that run into the new year.

Player to Watch: Kevin Hayes (Stockton Town)

Dunston UTS v Marske United

Date: Saturday 1st January 2021

Competition: Pitching-In Northern Premier League East Division

Venue: UTS Stadium

Kick-off Time: 3pm

Marske United will look to bounce back from a league defeat for the first time since late August when they visit Dunston UTS on Saturday.

The Seasiders have been in stunning form throughout the first half of the season and lie just three points behind leaders Liversedge.

They will hope to continue pressuring the Sedge with a win against a Dunston UTS side looking to bounce back from their own Christmas defeat at Hebburn Town.

After looking like genuine play-off contenders at the start of December, Dunston lie 10 points shy of a top five place and a positive start to the new year is essential if they want to get themselves back in the mix.

New faces could be in the Dunston squad for the game - but keeping the prolific Adam Boyes and Matty Tymon quiet will be more significant to their chances of securing a much needed win.

Player to Watch: Craig Gott (Marske United)

Darlington v Spennymoor Town

Date: Saturday 1st January 2021

Competition: Vanarama National League North

Venue: Blackwell Meadows

Kick-off Time: 3pm

The big hope for this game is that the talk afterwards is of an entertaining and keenly contested derby on the pitch rather than any off-field events.

The Boxing Day meeting between Spennymoor and Darlington saw unsavoury scenes in the Brewery Field stands and I am sure both clubs will do all they can to avoid a repeat on Saturday afternoon.

The 1-1 draw played out earlier this week showed there is little between these two sides and I can’t see anything changing when they meet at Blackwell Meadows on Saturday.

They both head into the game looking to bounce back from derby defeats suffered on Tuesday and catapult themselves into the National League North play-off mix.

Player to Watch: Will Hatfield (Darlington)

Blyth Spartans v Gateshead

Date: Sunday 2nd January 2021

Competition: Vanarama National League North

Venue: Croft Park

Kick-off Time: 3pm

If anyone had asked me to predict the outcome of Gateshead’s visit to Spartans a week ago I would have gone for a comfortable Heed win.

However, after witnessing Spartans 3-1 win against Spennymoor earlier this week and seeing the impact of new manager Terry Mitchell, I think this has suddenly become a far more difficult test for Mike Williamson’s men.

Gateshead make the trip to Croft Park looking for an eighth consecutive win and one that could take them to the top of the National League North table if current leaders Brackley Town fail to win at Kettering Town.

The last two Croft Park fixtures between Spartans and the Heed have produced 10 goals in thrilling draws - I wouldn’t be shocked to see a similar level of entertainment this weekend.

Player to Watch: Macaulay Langstaff (Gateshead)

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