STL Northern League

DUNSTON UTS aim to keep the pressure on joint leaders Sunderland RCA and West Auckland Town when they line up against Consett at Belle Vue Park this afternoon – but manager Billy Irwin will warn his players against complacency.

DUNSTON UTS aim to keep the pressure on joint leaders Sunderland RCA and West Auckland Town when they line up against Consett at Belle Vue Park this afternoon – but manager Billy Irwin will warn his players against complacency.

He said: “Consett is never an easy place to go.

“I know we have taken 15 points from the last 18 and progressed to the last 32 of the FA Vase, but Kenny Lindoe will have his side well prepared.”

A boost for Dunston is the availability of a full-strength squad, but the Steelmen are not so fortunate.

Carl Piecha and Ryan Bell are out and Anthony Lund is rated doubtful. Lindoe, though, will field recent signings Luke Gilbert from Gateshead Reserves and Sam Hodgson (Whitby Town).

Sunderland RCA are just in front of West Auckland Town on goal difference ahead of the visit from Billingham Synthonia.

The Wearsiders have been delighted with their recent form despite manager Neil Hixon having coped with a worrying unavailability list.

He has attempted to strengthen the squad but was thwarted until he managed to bring in Glen Robson from Newton Aycliffe, who will play a part this afternoon.

Synners welcome the return of Jamie Blyth, but Curtis Collantine is an absentee with a hamstring injury and Nathan Jameson is extremely doubtful. West Auckland Town are at South Shields, who will want to erase the memory of a four-goal defeat to Newcastle Benfield earlier in the week.

Fourth-top Whitley Bay are at Ashington with both sides in excellent form.

The Seahorses, though, miss a quartet of players through injuries.

Craig McFarlane (knee), Lee Paul Scroggins (ankle), Gary Ormston (knee) and Gareth Williams (calf) are all out.

Manager Ian Chandler will probably bring in fringe players Michael McMullen and Alex Redfern, who both played a part in the midweek fixture.

Ashington are also riding high and, with several games in hand on the sides above them, are in a good position to challenge the leading pack. Boss Gary Middleton has injury concerns for Damon Mullen and Mark O’Dea, while Craig Scott is working.

Bedlington Terriers will be depleted for their game with Newton Aycliffe at Dr Pit Welfare Park.

Joint manager Tony Lowery, who is looking for his side to break into the top four, cannot name Stuart Elliott, Stephen Harrison, Peter Snowdon or Colin Morton.

Spennymoor Town are also in a position to challenge and, following the disappointment of exiting the FA Carlsberg Vase last weekend, will now concentrate on retaining the championship for a third successive season.

Danny Moore and Keith Gradon miss the visit to Billingham Town, but manager Jason Ainsley anticipates Craig Ruddy and Keiron Edwards playing.

Billingham Town are third from bottom and in a bid to boost their scoring prowess have signed David Onions from Guisborough Town.

Newcastle Benfield will give a second outing to Frank Danquah at Marske United, but Shaun Bell and Brian Dodsworth are sidelined.

In Division Two, leaders Team Northumbria face a tricky task at fifth-top Gillford Park.

It is a result anxiously awaited by North Shields who, after taking just one point from their first three games, are now second top and travel to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.

MALCOLM PRATT

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