WHITLEY Bay, buoyant at reaching the third qualifying round of the FA Cup and blitzing Billingham Town with eight goals in midweek, could go second in the Skilltrainingltd Northern League First Division if they defeat second from bottom Chester-le-Street at Chester Moor Park.
“We’ve had a brilliant week and look forward to meeting Nantwich in the next round of the FA Cup. I’ll be watching them at Eastwood Town this afternoon and Steve Cuggy and Gavin Fell will take charge at Chester-le-Street,” said manager Ian Chandler.
The Bay are the leading scorers with 25 goals and with several players contributing, the Cestrians could find it difficult even though the visitors miss Leon Ryan, Paul Chow and Darren Timmens. Billingham Synthonia took just one point from their first three games but five consecutive victories has seen them surge into second position. They host Tow Law Town boosted by the inclusion of Stephen Baines and Simon Shaw. The Lawyers are not so fortunate and they go into a tricky game unable to name Chris Renshaw, Matty Gowland and Anthony March. Fortunately Andy Johnson had a plaster removed from his arm on Wednesday and is expected to play.
In Division Two, Birtley Town will attempt to extend their recent good form at Horden CW where manager Dave Smith will anxiously await news on Scott Garrett, who was injured in midweek.
Horden are up to fifth but they are weakened by the unavailability of Chris I’Anson, Anthony Lund, Craig Stephens, Gary Riches and Neil Gutteridge. The former Wrexham and Darlington player Steve Thomas has recovered from a calf injury and is added to the squad.
Hebburn Town are on the fringe of the promotion pack and manager Tony Robinson is hoping that Martin Urwin and Paul Trosh can play against Prudhoe Town especially as Anthony Myers is a definite non starter.
Following an indifferent start to the season Washington have come good and victory over Team Northumbria could see them jump to fourth place. A number of clubs are involved in the first round of the FA Vase and an attractive game is in prospect at Woodhorn Lane when full-strength Ashington take on Leeds Carnegie.
Bedlington Terriers have home advantage over Stokesley SC with joint manager Tony Lowery awaiting news on injuries to Martin Humble, Lee Ludlow, Mark Poolan, Gareth McAlindon and Scott Milne.
First Division leaders West Allotment Celtic visit Bridlington Town and Ryton are also on their travels to Guisborough Town where boss Barry Fleming welcomes the inclusion of Stephen Shaw. Gary Forbes and Tony Healer are struggling with injuries.
Newcastle Benfield, who were involved in a gruelling and eventful FA Cup replay with Winterton Rangers on Wednesday night, delay selecting their squad for the home tie with Northern Alliance team Peterlee Town.
Morpeth manager Jon King cannot name David Anderson, Jack Wells or Matty Hamaliec against Sunderland Nissan and additionally Lee Bell, Damon Mullen and Chris Rue are fitness doubts.
Sunderland RCA are third bottom of Division Two but they have played by far fewer games than any other side. Manager Neil Hixon is confident of making progress at the expense of Marske United.
“I have the former Darlington player Mark McLeod in the squad and we are hopeful of taking the club into the last 64 of a national competition for the first time that anyone can remember,” said Hixon.