CHAMPIONSHIP hopefuls Spennymoor Town are the only Northern League side in FA Carlsberg Vase action today, as they travel to face Bideford, writes MALCOLM PRATT.
Last year’s beaten semi-finalists Whitley Bay had their tie with Stratford Town called off yesterday, while Marske United’s trip to St Ives Town was also postponed due to snow.
Consett have the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table if they defeat relegation-threatened Northallerton Town at Belle Vue Park. Kenny Lindoe’s side, now without star striker Mattie Moffat following his transfer to Durham City, has picked up just two points from the last three games and will be anxious to regain winning form.
West Allotment Celtic have the chance to go third but will need to defeat Billingham Synthonia, who reached the final of the Durham Challenge Cup with victory over Shildon in midweek.
Celtic delay announcing their squad but a double boost for Synners is the inclusion of Adam Clough and James Magowan.
Dunston Federation will attempt to extend their unbeaten sequence to 18 games when they visit West Auckland Town.
The Fed, who last tasted defeat way back in August, can not name the suspended Stephen Brown.
Ashington could have Justin Millican in their squad at Chester-le-Street. He has been sidelined for 10 weeks and also making a comeback is David Rayner. The Cestrians hope to include injury victims Damien Maw, Ibby Hassan and Craig Price as they attempt to build on an excellent performance last weekend. Morpeth Town, who have played only three games at Craik Park, will be anxious for their fixture with Seaham Red Star to go ahead.
The Northumbrians still have 18 home fixtures to fulfil in addition to a cup tie against Jarrow Roofing.
Seaham Red Star, who are now in the relegation zone, miss the injured Johnny Payne but Paul Davison is back. Manager Tom Wade has signed Adam Rowntree, previously with Blyth Spartans and Washington, and he is named in Newcastle Benfield’s squad for the visit of Penrith. Alu Bangura and Dean Fuller are expected to play. Ryton have enjoyed an excellent first season in the top flight and could go fifth if they defeat Shildon. Manager Barry Fleming has signed Andy Innes from Birtley Town and John Milner from Bedlington Terriers.
Sunderland Nissan hope to give a long-awaited debut to Brian Fairless, the ex-West Auckland Town player, against South Shields at Filtrona Park.
Because the Ironworks Road ground was under snow earlier in the week, Tow Law Town have agreed to switch their fixture with Billingham Town to Teesside. The new hosts’ only absentee is the suspended Shaun Clark.
The game of the day in Division Two is between promotion hopefuls Whickham and Norton and Stockton Ancients at The Glebe. Whickham boss Terry Ritson reported that Gary Anderson and Ian Robson are definite non-starters and that Graeme Jackson and Andrew Wilson are given only a 50-50 chance of playing. In contrast, Norton, second top only a point adrift of Esh Winning, have no injury worries.
Washington will play their “home” fixture with Guisborough Town at the Nissan Sports Complex. Manager Keith Sheardown has signed Ian Irving (Ashington), Barrie Smith (Birtley Town), Carl Duggan (Morpeth Town) and 17-year-old Simon Wilson, whose brother Tom also plays for the club.
Birtley Town entertain Team Northumbria and will give a first game to Stuart Anderson, brought in from Washington.
Robbie Livermore is North Shields’ only concern at home to Jarrow Roofing and promotion hopefuls Sunderland RCA visit Whitehaven minus injured Shaun Joseph.