WHITLEY Bay, four-time winners of the FA Carlsberg Vase, aim to take another step towards a return to Wembley when they line up against Causeway United in the third round at Hillheads this afternoon.
Manager Ian Chandler said: “It’s every players dream to play at Wembley. The majority of the squad have been there but make no mistake about it, they want to go back!”
Coach Brian Smith watched Causeway United and his report to Chandler indicated they will be no push-overs.
“From the discussions I’ve had with Brian it would appear they are a decent side but if we play as we have done recently, I think we will be fine,” added Chandler.
The Seahorses’ only absentee is Chris Reid, who is temporarily working in India but should return home shortly. A boost is the inclusion of Ian Watson who hasn’t played in Whitley’s first team since being injured last season.
Ashington are at home to AFC Rushden and Diamonds and boss Gary Middleton is still minus injury victims Phil Bell, Josh Grey and Jonny Godsmark.
Dunston UTS travel to Staffordshire for their tie with Norton United and the good news for manager Billy Irwin is that he has no selection concerns. He could hand a debut to left back Dan Smith, signed this week from Darlington 1883.
Spennymoor Town meet Billingham Synthonia in the only all-ENL game. Assistant boss Gavin Fell insists Moors will not take their opponents lightly despite the phenomenal form they are enjoying. He said: “We’ve only lost once, to Trafford in the FA Cup, but Synners gave us a good game before we eventually recently defeated them. It was very close for 70 minutes so we’ll need to be at the top of our game.”
The remaining five games have been postponed, which has been a blessing in disguise for Billingham Synthonia since it has given players the opportunity to regain full fitness.
South Shields are already embroiled in a relegation battle having won only three and drawn one of their 18 games. Just as alarming is the fact they’ve conceded no fewer than 61 goals.
In a bid to shore up the defence, manager Jon King has signed three players with Paul Robinson (Jarrow Roofing), Jordan Mellish (Blyth Spartans) and Wayne Clarke (Bishop Auckland) moving into Filtrona Park.
He is hopeful that club captain Lee Bell and Sebastien Anzevui will be able to play at Team Northumbria.
Assistant manager David Hagan has unfortunately had to step down while Scott Donaldson has moved to Chester-le-Street and Stephen Allison to Darlington RA.
Sunderland RCA boss Neil Hixon has also been wheeling and dealing on the transfer front before their visit to West Auckland Town.
Last week he signed three players and he currently has seven days’ notice in for another trio while he has released Luke Gilbert and Jordan Marshall.
“With the changes I’ve made and the players I’m hoping to bring in I feel we will be a competitive side again. Our aim now is to turn draws into victories and end as high as possible.”
It’s unlikely, however, the Wearsiders will emulate last season’s fourth-top finish.
Consett travel down the A19 for their game at Norton and Stockton Ancients where manager Kenny Lindoe misses captain Carl Piecha, Ryan Bell and Scott Martindale but Ian Davison comes into his plans.
Norton are another side too near the bottom for comfort but their hopes are boosted with the availability of goalkeeper Jim Provett, Callum Brown, Steve Oakley, Callum Wilson and Shaun Clarke, who makes his comeback following a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury.