Jon Tait previews the upcoming fixtures

Heaton Stannington A v Newcastle East End

East End will be looking to avoid a potential banana skin at Northern Alliance Division Two Stan A as they hope to continue their target of reaching the final of the NFA Stelrad Minor Cup for the second successive season.

The Alliance First Division outfit boosted their chances with a nail-biting penalty shoot-out win over Stobswood Welfare in the last round after the sides couldn’t be separated at 1-1 while Heaton Stannington A, who felt they rather fortuitously came from behind to win the first game in a penalty shoot-out after it finished 2-2, comfortably disposed of Alnwick Town Development 3-1 at the second time of asking.

“Whilst we are pleased to be playing at home for this one, our run of getting tough cup draws continues, having drawn Blue Star away in the Northern Alliance George Dobbins Cup, and they don’t come any harder than a local derby against Newcastle East End,” said manager Russell Ward.

“We know from two very hard-fought games in the league last season where there was nothing between us that it will be a very tough game, and particularly with East End having moved up a division since then as well.”

“Whether knowing each other as well as we do is to anyone’s advantage will be interesting to see, but as with a number of our other cup games, we have nothing to lose and will give it a go, as a victory for us would leave every team left in the competition feeling that they could win it (to the extent that they don’t already).”

“Our young team has played really well to get us through to this stage and whilst we were lucky to get to penalties in the first game against Alnwick, only our wastefulness in front of goal in the replayed game stopped the score-line from having a much more one-sided look to it, so hopefully we can be more clinical this week.”

A disappointing League campaign to date sees the Grounsell Park side currently bottom of the table but they will look to tear-up the form book against East End who are currently second in Division One and the highest ranked side left in the competition.


Gosforth Bohemians Development v North Shields CC

One side from outside the Northern Football Alliance is guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals of the competition as Bohs Development play in the North-East Combination and Shields compete in the North-East Christian Fellowship.

The Bohs young guns were firing on all cylinders in the last round as they crashed in six at Stocksfield and they will be keen to continue their superb Cup run.

Shields have had a little blip in recent weeks as they went out of the National Christian Cup in somewhat controversial style and then saw their incredible 46-game unbeaten League record finally broken.

But manager Dan Baxter and his side go about the game the right way and they’ll be determined to get things back on track as soon as possible.

“We are absolutely delighted to make the quarter finals of the Stelrad Minor Cup for the second time in our history. In the last round versus Rothbury all of the players were 10/10 and showed what a good level they all play at,” said Dan.

“It was a tough and physical game but our togetherness and perseverance got us the result we deserved. Rothbury are a very good side and as a unit our lads covered every inch of the pitch. We restricted Rothbury to very few clear opportunities which is testament to our players.”

“We’re looking forward to our game with Gosforth Bohemian Development, who, like ourselves, have been enjoying a fantastic run in the competition including beating Alliance side Stocksfield convincingly in the last round.”

“We are very much looking forward to sharing the pitch with Gosforth as both sides will be flying the flag for teams outside the Alliance.”

“Our approach to every fixture is always ensuring we try to the best of our abilities - we have a lot of respect for Gosforth and are eagerly awaiting the tie.”


Hexham v Willington Quay Saints

The all-Alliance Division One clash is on paper the pick of the draws and should produce an entertaining and exciting game.

Hexham were made to work hard for a 1-0 success at New Hartley Juniors which could have been more comfortable as they missed a penalty, with a Branddon Fearns-Kennedy free kick in the 78th minute proving decisive.

Hexham manager Martin Lowes said: “We weren't sure what to expect from New Hartley Juniors going into the game and didn't know too much about our opponents.”

“It was a scrappy first half on a challenging surface with very few chances. In the second half, I thought we really controlled the game and created numerous chances before finally making the breakthrough and then holding out, securing our place in the next round.”

“Although we knocked out Willington in last year’s Minor Cup, we have faced them twice at home this year and they have been really strong on both occasions. Since then, coaches Patrick Burns and Colin Scandle have joined us and I feel we are much improved in all aspects,” continued Martin.


“We will be hoping to take some of our recent performances into Saturday's game and I'm expecting it to be a cracking game, hopefully one where we get the edge.”

Saints were also pushed all the way in their 2-1 victory at Alliance Division Two leaders Ponteland United Reserves, which came as no surprise to Chris Lowes.

“We knew we were going to be in for a tough game against a quality side who had won their previous six games at home,” he said.

“We were against a very strong wind first half and our defence held firm to thwart any Pont attacks and m a minute before half time we took the lead when left back Tony Lucas headed home a corner.”

“We made immediate use of the wind in the second half scoring five minutes after the restart through a Dan Coleman long range effort and should have had the game wrapped up before Pont made it interesting when they pulled a goal back with 10 minutes left when Lucas headed into his own net from a dangerous set piece,” continued Chris.

“The last 10 minutes passed by with no drama with our captain Elliot Mitchell winning some crucial aerial battles to keep Pont at bay and the lads were buzzing when the final whistle went and we had booked our quarter final spot.”

The journey to Tynedale is a familiar one for Willington Quay both in the League and Cups and after seeing their Minor Cup journey ended their last term, Lowes will be keen to avoid a repeat.

“Hexham knocked us out last season and it will be another tough game where we hope we can get a lot of travelling support to hopefully cheer us into the Minor Cup Semi Final for only the third time in our history.”

Saints won a Combination Cup tie 3-1 at Hexham earlier in the season and 6-1 at Queen Elizabeth High School in the League.


Newcastle University A v North Sunderland

Both sides play in the Northern Alliance Second Division and need to do little homework on each other.

“We’ve done great to make it this far in the competition. I was very pleased with our 2-0 win against Wideopen in the last round - Dean has them very organised and hard to beat,” said Uni A boss Andy Jarman.

“I’m expecting a very tough match against North Sunderland. Their league position is a little false and if you don’t match their commitment around the pitch they are a dangerous team.”

While the Students currently sit third in the table and are pushing for promotion, the Seahouses side are in the lower reaches but are more than capable of pulling themselves out of the danger zone.

“To be honest, we were lucky to get past a very good North Shields Athletic side in the last round - we continued our run of scoring late goals to get a last-minute equaliser to take it to penalties, but no doubt, and rightly so, North Shields will feel hard done by,” admitted manager Alan Macfarlane.

The game ended 3-3 and the Fishermen held their nerve to take the tie 5-4 in the shoot-out.

“Weve got the Uni A in the last eight; we beat them 5-4 in a close league game in December so hopefully we can see a repeat of that result.”

Ties are scheduled to be played on Saturday 11th February, kick-off 1.30pm.