Weekend Kicks

Mark Carruthers reflects on this weekend’s North East football scene

They say “There is no place like home”.

Whoever ‘they’ are may want to discuss that with Simon Grayson and his Sunderland side.

The Black Cats boss has one win in eight games since taking over at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland have lost three of their four home games since relegation from the Premier League.

Their only home point came on the opening evening of the Championship season, when there were flickers of an awakening by the Black Cats in a 1-1 draw against Derby County.

On that night, the fledgling strike partnership between James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban showed promise.

Wingers Aidan McGeady was a constant menace and youngster George Honeyman showed flashes of that he could – and still might – become a key figure this season.

Since that promising display against the Rams, Sunderland have been beaten at the Stadium of Light by Leeds United, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest.

On Saturday they face Cardiff City, a side sat in third place in the Championship.

Neil Warnock’s side have lost only one of their four away games and will provide a stern test for the Black Cats.

Their only defeat on the road came against Grayson’s former club Preston North End, so there is promise there for the Wearsiders.

It is still very early in the season, but it’s already starting to feel like now-or-never for the Black Cats.

Elsewhere in the Championship, Middlesbrough face a tough-looking trip to Fulham, a side that haven’t quite hit the peaks of last season but will still provide the Boro with a stern test of their promotion credentials.

There is a reunion with former boss Chris Hughton for Newcastle United on Sunday.

The upwardly-mobile Magpies travel to the South Coast to face Brighton and Hove Albion.

Rafa Benitez’s side did the league double over Albion in the Championship last season and another victory would make it four Premier League wins in a row.

If they can achieve that feat it would be the first time since November 2014 that Newcastle have won four top-flight fixtures in a row.

Gateshead travel to Maidstone United in the National League and in-form Hartlepool United host Eastleigh at Victoria Park.

Pools go into the game having won thirteen points from a possible fifteen.

The North East’s National League North trio will all look to bounce back from shock FA Cup exits this weekend.

Darlington travel to Boston United looking to put their 3-0 home defeat against South Shields behind them.

Blyth Spartans also lost to lower-league opposition in the FA Cup as Shaw Lane secure a late 2-1 win at Croft Park.

Spartans face an away game at former Football League club Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday.

Despite their FA Cup exit, Spartans go into the fixture in fine form and will hope to make it five league wins in a row.

If they can, they could move up to third in non-league’s second-tier.

Spennymoor Town lie in sixth place in the division and they host Alfreton Town at Brewery Field.

South Shields will hope to extend their lead at the top of the Evo-Stik North table when they entertain Clitheroe at Mariners Park.

It’s FA Vase weekend again for a whole host of our Northern League clubs.

There are a number of attractive ties, including FA Cup heroes Newcastle Benfield heading to Hebburn Town and in-form Marske United hosting Northern League Division One rivals Seaham Red Star.

For anyone looking for Friday night football, there is a decent-looking Vase tie at Whickham as they face Blyth AFC at the Glebe.

Full fixtures taking place in the region this weekend are below:

Friday 22nd September (7.45pm unless stated)
FA Vase Second Qualifying Round

Whickham v Blyth AFC (7.30pm)

EFL Championship

Sunderland v Cardiff City

Northern League Division Two

Jarrow v Chester-le-Street Town

Saturday 23rd September (3pm unless stated)
National League

Hartlepool United v Eastleigh

National League North

Spennymoor Town v Alfreton Town

Evo-Stik North

South Shields v Clitheroe

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round

Bedlington Terriers v Bishop Auckland

Billingham Synthonia v Whitley Bay

Dunston UTS v Washington

Hebburn Town v Newcastle Benfield

Jarrow Roofing BCA v Knaresborough Town

Marske United v Seaham Red Star

Ryhope CW v Northallerton Town

Stockton Town v Consett

Team Northumbria v Durham City

Tow Law Town v Penrith

West Auckland Town v Silsden

Willington v Harrogate RA

Northern League Division One

Guisborough Town v Morpeth Town

Sunderland RCA v Shildon

Northern League Division Two

Alnwick Town v Esh Winning

Brandon United v West Allotment Celtic

Crook Town v Billingham Town

Darlington RA v Heaton Stannington

Easington Colliery v Ryton & Crawcrook Albion

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