By Glen Robertson
Brian Atkinson returns to Moore Lane Park on Saturday as reigning Northern League champions Spennymoor make their first visit to Newton Aycliffe.
Moors, coached by Newtonian Atkinson, are looking for a third consecutive first division title and are currently six points behind leaders Sunderland RCA, with three games in hand. It will be the first time Atkinson has returned to his hometown club since he left in October.
His old side Aycliffe aim to end a three match losing run, by taking the one local derby scalp they have failed to do so far. With a victory over each of Shildon, West Auckland and Bishop Auckland, only Spenny remain undefeated against Allan Oliver’s side.
Aycliffe were narrowly beaten at Brewery Field back in November, succumbing to Sonny Andrews’ 30th minute penalty.
But Aycliffe midfielder Josh Knox believes that Aycliffe can spring a surprise and dent Spenny’s title aspirations this weekend.
“It’ll be a good game,” he said. “They’re near the top of the league and it’ll be a good test for the team.
“It was a tight game in bad weather at their place, but they didn’t outplay us. We’ll look to turn it this round this week.
“We usually play better against teams higher up in the league. We’ve beaten West Auckland, we’ve beaten Whitley Bay, but struggled against the lesser teams. Hopefully we can do the same on Saturday against Spenny.”
With Aycliffe’s next game away to Whitley Bay, Knox knows how important it is to end the current losing streak.
He said: “We’re due a win now. We don’t want to lose four in a row, and then have to travel to Whitley Bay.
“If we can get a win we can push on for the last few games and finish as high up the league as possible.”
Knox will return to the depleted midfield, after he missed Saturday’s defeat to Penrith. Skipper Sean Tarling remains sidelined through suspension.
The game kicks off at Moore Lane Park at 3pm, with admission £5 for adults and £3 concessions. Knox is featured in the club’s award-winning matchday programme, on sale at the ground for just £1.