FA Carlsberg Vase / Northern League

SPENNYMOOR Town manager Jason Ainsley believes his side face a difficult end to the season, despite being nine points ahead in the Skilltrainingltd Northern League.

SPENNYMOOR Town manager Jason Ainsley believes his side face a difficult end to the season, despite being nine points ahead in the Skilltrainingltd Northern League.

He said: “I was disappointed we conceded two points to Dunston UTS even though they are third-from-top.

“We had chances to win the game and it just goes to show what can happen.

“We thought in advance it would be difficult, but the way the game panned out we should have won.

“I know we are still nine points in front of Whitley Bay but we still have them and fourth-placed Newcastle Benfield to play, so we cannot rest on our laurels.

“Every point has to be fought for. We have a derby with Bishop Auckland at West Auckland Town’s ground tomorrow night.

“They are in the bottom half of the table but beat us in a Cup tie and they will certainly be up for the game.”

Newcastle Benfield boss Paul Baker was delighted his side extended an unbeaten sequence to 10 games, especially as he rated South Shields very highly.

He said: “I thought the Mariners played fantastic stuff and at the end of the day I was pleased we claimed our eighth win in 10 attempts with goals from Michael Chilton and Chris Carr.

“There is no doubt we are playing well and are in a rich vein of form.

“Another pleasing aspect on Saturday was the fact we kept a clean sheet against a very good footballing side.”

Benfield, though, have a lot to do since they trail leaders Spennymoor Town by 15 points having played the same number of games.

Baker added: “I know we are very much outsiders, but we still have Spennymoor to play and they also have to meet Whitley Bay, so anything could happen.”

Tomorrow, Benfield have a chance to keep the pressure on the leading trio when they take on bottom-of-the-table Morpeth Town at Bedlington Terriers, but Baker insists they will take nothing for granted.

Phil Lumsden returns following suspension and it is possible Dean Nicholson will also be available after missing Saturday’s game.

Whitley Bay, meanwhile, line up against Newcastle United Reserves at Hillheads tomorrow in the semi final of the Northumberland FA Senior Cup – and manager Ian Chandler was pleased with his team’s preparations on Saturday.

The Seahorses coasted to victory over relegation-threatened Horden CW when goals by Adam Johnston, with a brace, Craig McFarlane and Paul Robinson did not flatter Chandler’s men.

Whitley, meanwhile, will fly the flag on behalf of the SNL in the semi finals of the FA Carlsberg Vase.

They will play Barwell from Leicestershire in the two-leg semi final after League rivals Norton and Stockton Ancients lost 3-0 to Barwell on Saturday.

MALCOLM PRATT

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