BEDLINGTON Terriers coach Paddy Atkinson is looking forward to this afternoon’s STL Northern League First Division game at Newcastle Benfield where he hopes to renew acquaintances with good friends.
He said: “I’ve really good memories of my four years at the Sam Smiths ground. I worked alongside Tom Wade and together we won four trophies, which wasn’t a bad record.”
Since leaving Benfield, Atkinson has been coach at Bedlington who have Tony Lowery and Keith Perry as joint managers.
Alu Bangura is a relative newcomer to the managerial role but he has steered Benfield into a the top half of the table, although they are ten points behind the Terriers.
With Nolberto Solana on board, Benfield are a progressive club and Bangura is enjoying every minute of the challenge.
“We’ve recently signed a former player, Paddy Collins, who was a pro at Darlington,” said Bangura.
“He’s very versatile and another newcomer is striker Ian Graham from Bedlington Terriers. Both players will be involved at some stage but unfortunately I’ve got five out for one reason or another.”
Michael Chilton has joined Dunston UTS, Kevin Leighton is suspended while Ross Peareth, Carl Patterson and Scott Martindale are also missing. Adam Scope undergoes a fitness check just before kick-off. With three of the top five clubs involved in the FA Carlsberg Vase, Sunderland RCA and Spennymoor Town aim to up the pressure on their rivals for the championship.
The Wearsiders start favourites at home to Tow Law Town, who are second bottom with much to do if they are to escape the drop.
Spennymoor Town travel to Penrith who are also involved in the relegation dogfight. The Cumbrians are fifth from the basement just six points ahead of Jarrow Roofing who currently occupy the last relegation place.
South Shields could hand a debut to Ivan Stoyanov at Billingham Town, another side fighting a rearguard action to retain a top-flight status. Tony Burnell has re-joined the club from Newcastle Benfield while Lee Bell has gone on a month’s loan to West Allotment Celtic.
Chris Dunwell hopes to complete a one-match ban and Town are also without injured Michael Arthur.
There could be a number of changes in the Norton and Stockton Ancients side to play Marske Utd. Matthew Garbutt (Thornaby) and Jordan Marshall (Gateshead College) could make their debuts and Jim Provett, who has been sidelined for four months with a hand injury, is also back. Paul Stephenson has returned to Spennymoor Town while Shaun Clarke has an abdominal injury and will not play again this season. The match of the day in Division Two is at the Daren Persson Stadium between promotion challengers North Shields and Team Northumbria.
Paul Johnson is able to name a full strength Team line-up but his opposite number Anthony Woodhouse is not so fortunate.
Definitely sidelined are Mark Rasmussen, Dean Holmes and Keith Douglas while Kevin Hughes (back), James Harmison (ankle) and Paul Dunn (knee) will all need their fitness assessed before kick-off.
Woodhouse is expected to name Adam Rowntree, signed from Newcastle Benfield, for his first outing.