STL Northern League

FOLLOWING their midweek victory over Sunderland RCA which cost the Wearsiders pole position, Dunston UTS aim to maintain their strong challenge for the STL Northern League championship when they visit Billingham Town.

FOLLOWING their midweek victory over Sunderland RCA which cost the Wearsiders pole position, Dunston UTS aim to maintain their strong challenge for the STL Northern League championship when they visit Billingham Town.

Manager Billy Irwin said: “We are looking to build on Wednesday night’s excellent result when the lads played really well.

“Everybody is confident and I want more of the same this afternoon, but make no mistake, it won’t be easy at Billingham Town, whose own confidence will have grown with last week’s FA Carlsberg Vase success.”

Irwin welcomes the return of Steve Goddard, Steve Pickering and Stephen Preen.

Billingham Town are severely weakened with the absence of quartet of players. Jamie Owens, who has scored four times in the last two games, goalkeeper James Briggs, Glen Butterworth and Chris Dunwell are all sidelined. Following two consecutive defeats which cost them their place in the FA Carlsberg Vase and the leadership, Sunderland RCA’s boss Neil Hixon is anxious for his side to avoid a hat-trick of reverses, at Tow Law Town .

“I’m looking forward to today’s game and hopefully see us get back to winning ways. Our chances are boosted with the return of Scott Richards and Brian Stewart,” said Hixon.

Whitley Bay are down to fourth and they too need a winning result against Norton and Stockton Ancients at Hillheads.

“The fact that we are seven points off the leaders is not the end of the world. There are a lot of games still to play but obviously we need to restart the habit of winning matches,” observed manager Ian Chandler, who is hoping to have David Pounder, Gary Ormston and Darren Timmens back.

Norton, one point and a place below the Seahorses, cannot name goalkeeper Jim Provett, who could be out for three months with a broken hand sustained last week.

Spennymoor Town, who aim to win a third consecutive title, are sixth before the visit of Jarrow Roofing but have games in hand on all the sides above them.

Manager Jason Ainsley has Stephen Capper banned, and Steve Garvie is out with a knee injury.

He said: “We need to keep the pressure on the sides challenging for the title. I’m not taking anything away from Jarrow Roofing but we’ve got to make sure and win our home games.”

Roofing have slipped to seventh from bottom, and manager Richie McLoughlin reckons his side has to stop conceding silly goals.

“We need to tighten things up at the back and then we’ll be okay,” claimed McLoughlin who has injury concerns for Josh Allen and Paul Wardle.

Jon King takes charge of South Shields for the first time following the sudden departure of Gary Steadman and Justin Perry.

King, who was coach at Filtrona Park has made David Southern, Alex Benjamin and Daniel Briggs available for transfer but he’s hopeful of Tony Burnell and Stephen Ramsey returning.

In Division Two a close result is expected between third-top West Allotment Celtic and Team Northumbria, with just five points separating the pair.

Team have lost twice recently, while Celtic have steadily come up the table and their confidence will have been boosted by the midweek success over Washington.

Birtley Town, though, are the in-form side with seven wins and a draw during October.

They aim to sign off the month by at least remaining unbeaten when they visit bottom-of-the-table Horden CW.

Boss Scott Oliver cannot call upon Andrew Inness and Reece Darwent will need a late check on his fitness.

Oliver’s selection concerns pale in insignificance compared to that of Horden boss Brian Honour, who misses Greg Rutherford, Callum Wilson, Jack Honour, Jack Proctor and brothers Michael and Sean Joseph.

North Shields are fifth, having played fewer games than the four sides above them. They delay announcing their line-up for the visit of second-bottom Whitehaven to the Daren Persson Stadium.

Chester-le-Street are third from the basement, and at home to Crook Town manager Anth Smith is expected to name recent signing Brett Gillatt, but Danny Lay is a definite absentee.

Robbie Draper, who had made 306 appearances for the Cestrians, is shortly to emigrate to Australia.

MALCOLM PRATT

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