Northern League: RCA snap up Black Cats keeper Woud, plus ex-Sunderland man Tommy Butler

There will be a strong Sunderland AFC influence in Sunderland RCA's squad for tomorrow's First Division game against Bedlington Terriers at Meadow Park.

Friday, 1st April 2016, 10:00 am
Washington's Chris Wallace (red) battles for the ball against Bishop Auckland last week. Picture by Tim Richardson

With goalkeeper Jordan Harkess one of several players sidelined, RCA manager Martin Swales has signed New Zealand Under-18 international Michael Woud from the Stadium of Light, and he goes straight into the squad.

So, too, does Tommy Butler, an ex-Sunderland midfielder who also played for Swansea and Hartlepool. He has come in from Alnwick Town, while Ross McNab – grandson of former Roker Park favourite Jimmy – is also named in tomorrow’s pool.

“We’ve been devastated with injuries in recent weeks and tomorrow is no different,” said RCA boss Martin Swales.

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“I’m definitely missing Colin Larkin, Michael Charlton, Kevin Gordon, Nathan Cummings and James Armstrong, in addition to Jordan Harkess, so it’ll be all hands to the pumps.

“I’ve just experienced my worst sequence of results since I took over 18 months ago. We’ve lost four on the bounce.

“I’m hurting and so are the lads. We need to step up to the plate and, in particular, stop conceding early goals.”

Seaham Red Star are on a high going into their game at Dunston UTS and manager Mark Collingwood will be looking to extend an unbeaten run of six games.

“When we were promoted at the start of the season, we found it a lot tougher than expected, but have come good in recent weeks,” said secretary David Copeland.

“With David Scorer expected back into a strong squad, we are hopeful of getting another good result.”

It’s a big occasion at the UTS Stadium tomorrow when Dunston celebrate their 1000th game in the Northern League.

“It’s a milestone in the club’s history and league president George Courtney will make a presentation before kick-off,” said long-serving secretary Bill Montague.

Unlike their visitors, Dunston will be severely depleted, with Dan Halliday, Dale Burrell, Craig Hodgson, Andy Clark and Liam Thear all ruled out.

Washington boss Steve Hutchinson will insist that his players push for every point in a bid to end in the top six.

He said: “We are fifth and it would be a fantastic achievement if we finish among the big boys. Who would have thought when we were promoted at the end of last season, that we would be in such a good position?”

Hutchinson, though, was not happy that his team scored five goals away from home but still lost to Consett on Tuesday night.

“If you concede eight times then quite clearly you don’t deserve to win and we’ll need to tighten up at the back tomorrow, “ added Hutchinson.

The Mechanics miss keeper Jonathan Carmichael and key man Joe Walton and Hutchinson will need to check the fitness of Chris Wallace, Chris Winn and Stephen Stewart before finalising his side.

Second-bottom Durham City, who visit Washington’s Nissan home, are fighting to avoid relegation. Boss Chris Moore watched Washington succumb 4-1 at home to Bishop Auckland last weekend.

The match of the day is between leaders Shildon and second-top Marske United. The Dean Street side, the only team to have scored more than 100 goals, enjoy a 16-point cushion, but Marske have five games in hand.

Third-top Morpeth visit Newton Aycliffe and manager Nick Gray reckons he’ll have to use his full squad, saying: “We are playing five games in eight days, which is tough.

“I need the lads to concentrate on putting points on the board and try and forget the FA Vase Final at Wembley next month.”

More of the same will do nicely for Consett manager Mark Eccles, who was thrilled when his team scored eight times in midweek.

“I was appointed a few weeks ago and have settled in well. I’m really enjoying the role and the lads have taken to me which is very encouraging,” said Eccles.

At home to Ashington, the Steelmen miss Ryan McKinnon, Lewis Gibbons, Jordan Lavery, Luke Sullivan and Daniel Craggs. The Colliers go without Scott Blandford and Dylan Williamson.

North Shields had gone nine games unbeaten before a below-par performance cost them at Whitley Bay on Monday.

“We just didn’t treat it as a derby and I’ll remind the lads before we kick off against Bishop Auckland that they are playing for their place in the final of the Techflow Group Northumberland FA Senior Cup,” said assistant boss Andy Bowman.

“The game is at St James’s Park and I know every one of them will want to be involved, but it’s up to them.”

The Robins welcome back goalkeeper Chris Bannon, who has recovered from a broken nose, while Jack Donnison and Dean Holmes are also available again.