NEWCASTLE Benfield Bay Plastics have appointed Paddy Atkinson as manager with Tom Wade and Ian Archibald his assistants until the end of the season.
Atkinson, who played for several Football League clubs and had a three-year spell at St James’s Park under Kevin Keegan, was understudy to Paul Baker at Sam Smiths Park.
Baker surprisingly resigned following the Boxing Day defeat at Morpeth Town and Atkinson was put in temporary charge for last Saturday’s fixture with Chester-le-Street.
“I was pleased with the lads’ attitude and we arrested a losing sequence defeating the Cestrians. I was in charge of the Queen of the South Reserve team last season when we completed a League and Cup double and I would like to build a career in management so this is a good opportunity,” said Atkinson. Today, Benfield face a difficult task at Durham City, who lead the table having suffered just two defeats in 21 games.
Atkinson will await fitness tests on Gareth McAlindon, Anthony Shandran, Alu Bangura, Ian Graham and Lewis Tait before naming his line-up.
City manager Lee Collings is delighted with his side’s form at the halfway stage of the season. The club has made no secret of their ambition to move into the UniBond League.
Second-top Consett visit Seaham Red Star, who have transferred Danny Newby to UniBond League Premier Division club Whitby Town. Red Star have no injury problems and will field their first-choice side.
Whitley Bay, in third position, face a difficult task at home to Billingham Town but, having won seven of their last eight games and with Lee Kerr in electrifying form, are confident of another good result.
Kerr, who has scored hat-tricks in each of his last two outings, has racked up 11 goals in four matches and the Teessiders will have to contain him if they are to show profit. The Bay’s only absentee is the suspended Andy Dugdale.
Billingham Town cannot call upon Andy Harbron but Chris Smith and Natham Jamieson could resume.
Chester-le-Street have signed Andrew McIntosh from Dunston Federation and he is set to make his home debut in the attractive fixture with Spennymoor Town. His inclusion in the squad brings the number of Under-19s to six.
At the other end of the table, West Allotment Celtic are out of the bottom three for the first time in weeks. They host Dunston Federation and secretary Ted Ilderton reports that following last week’s tremendous win over Tow Law Town, few changes are anticipated.
Ashington are now eighth from the basement before the visit of Jarrow Roofing, who won for only the second time last weekend. The Colliers’ only concern is the fitness of Gary Bailes.
In Division Two, North Shields are in the bottom three after losing their last five games. They could again find the going difficult at improving Prudhoe Town.
Three former Prudhoe players will be involved for the Robins. Craig Pleasant and Tony Colquhoun are named in the squad while Iain Davison is the club’s assistant manager.
Stuart Heppell, Martin Graham and Roy Gordon return but striker Andy Bowman is ruled out through suspension. North Shields, meanwhile, have appointed former manager Wilf Keilty as director of football. Recently, Paul Hogg took over as manager.
Sunderland RCA, challenging for one of the three promotion places, have further strengthened their squad with the signing of the former Spennymoor Town player Stephen Houlahan from Ryton and Andrew Hoban from Willington. The only doubt for manager Neil Hixon at Crook Town is goalkeeper Craig Shields.
Whickham will leapfrog Birtley Town into second position if they take a point from the visit of Stokesley SC to The Glebe.
Birtley, whose form has slumped in recent weeks, have a free day enabling leaders Penrith to extend their advantage if they win at Marske United.