With the poor weather causing havoc across the region’s football at the weekend, Steve Clarke spent some time talking to a few local managers, about their season to date, on a rare free Saturday afternoon.
Ryhope CW manager Gary Pearson, is frustrated with the team’s consistency a bit this season and said: “The season is very erratic so far, with too many ups and downs, with more downs at the minute.
“We do very well against certain sides and poorly against others.
“We are just slightly below mid-table, but generally pleased with where we are, but we’ve wasted quite a few points this season where we could have done better.
“We are still in the League Cup, so that’s something to focus on and keeps the season alive.”
Pearson added: “The main problem has been scoring goals and not taking enough chances, which puts a lot of pressure on the back line.
“We wanted to beat 18th position last year, which so far we are doing.
“We have made large steps forward as a club and Stuart (Gooden, assistant manager) and I are enjoying co-managing and it is working well.
“We have progressed from this time last year, which we are pleased about, but we could be in a better position, which is something we are working on.
Sunderland RCA manager Martin Swales is fairly happy with the season to date and their current league position of seventh.
He said: “Overall, I’m happy with the position we’re in, in the league and I’m very happy with the squad I’ve got.
“Hopefully we can keep progressing up the table and do well in the cup.
“We went out early in the FA Vase and were disappointed compared to other seasons, where we have done quite well.
“In the FA Cup, we had some tough games before going out to a strong Scarborough Athletic team. We are still in the Durham County Challenge Cup and face South Shields away, later in the month.”
Seaham Red Star manager Chris McCabe, said of the season so far: “We are a bit disappointed of late, picking only one point from our last three league games.
“But, overall, the lads have done well to keep us in the top 10 in this tough league.
“I think it’s been well recorded that we have been badly hampered by injuries to key players, with long-term injuries for Craig Lynch, Lee Hetherington and Liam McBryde.
“Any side would miss players of their quality and we are no different.”
McCabe added: “We still have a League Cup tie to look forward too, at home to Easington Colliery in the New Year, and who knows, with a bit of luck and some returning players, we would like to think we have a chance of doing well in the competition.
“I have been forced to bring some new lads to the Star and have been pleased with their form, particularly goalkeeper Jordan Harkess, utility player Callum Munro, Dylan McGlade and a 17-year old winger, Alex Ramshaw.”
Washington manager James Clark has been plagued with injury problems of recent weeks, but has kept faith with his young squad.
He said: “We have picked up some vital wins recently in our determination to avoid relegation.
“I am hoping that some of my more experienced players will be able to recover soon, however, the mood at the club is good, after recent matches, and even the young players who have come up from the U-23 team, have been playing really well.”
Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake is a bit frustrated with his team so far this season.
He said: “It has been disappointing so far, but we have picked up of late to drag ourselves away from the relegation zone.
“Our younger players who I have brought in are taking longer to get used to senior football. We hoped they would adapt quicker than they have, but we are hoping for a better second half to the season.”
Wake, whose side were relegated from Division One last term, added: “We play Spennymoor in the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday night and we play West Allotment in the Ernest Armstrong Cup, which we are hoping to keep progressing in.”
Easington Colliery secretary Connor Lamb said: “We started off 2017-2018 poorly and struggled to find wins.
“We had a total squad overhaul in the summer and started the season with probably the youngest squad in the league.
“Our young lads weren’t used to the physicality of the Northern League and it has taken them time to adjust. We’re still a bit inconsistent, as our mid-table position suggests, but we’re certainly building for a good second half to the season.
“The recent signings of Shaun Smith and Jack Pounder, returning to the club, have added a bit more experience to the squad and they both bring quality.
“The way things were going at the start of the season, we could well have been in a relegation battle, but we should be just fine now and will be looking for a top-half finish.
“Following our poor start, it’ll be difficult to better last season’s finish, but who knows?”
Lamb concluded by saying: “We went out of the FA Vase to a very good Ashington side and there was nothing we could do about that.
“We’re still in the League Cup and have already knocked two First Division sides out of it. There’s no reason why we can’t knock a couple more out, including Seaham Red Star in the next round.
“We were disappointed to be knocked out of the Ernest Armstrong Cup, but that game just showed how we can be inconsistent. The Durham Challenge Cup is another cup we’re still in and we’ve history of doing well in that competition, so we’ll give it a good go.”
Durham City have improved of late and have made the top seven, following Satuday’s win at West Allotment Celtic.
Manager Ollie Hodgkiss said recently: “I am looking for more consistency in the team, even though they are in a rich vein of form at present, having collected 18 points from their last seven games.
“We tend to play at our best against the top teams and it brings the best out of the lads, but we also need to beat teams around us and below us in the league, to keep the good form going, in our aim for promotion.”