By Glen Robertson
Newton Aycliffe’s FA Vase campaign gets underway with a trip to Wearside League side Willington AFC on Saturday.
Allan Oliver’s side put their league campaign to one side as they face the pace setters in the Northern League’s feeder competition.
The Newtonians have never won a Vase fixture, with two defeats at the first hurdle since their debut in 2010.
In their first campaign – as a second division club – they went to Division One West Allotment but fell to a 5-1 defeat.
Last year there was a dream home tie with neighbours Shildon, but the first-ever competitive derby ended in a dour goalless draw at Moore Lane Park.
In the replay at Dean Street, Aycliffe were heartbroken as a late Chris McCabe goal in extra-time sent the Railwaymen through 3-2.
This time, Aycliffe will hope the confidence gained from their last two outings will help them through this tricky fixture. Aycliffe ended an eight game winless run with a deserved 1-0 defeat of Marske United at the weekend, before they bravely went down to league favourites Darlington on Wednesday, despite having the better chances in the game.
A performance similar to Wednesday night should see Aycliffe progress, but Willington are a dangerous side.
They have won nine from nine in the Wearside League and dumped Norhern League outfit Seaham Red Star out of the extra preliminary round of the Vase.
Aycliffe will be without Scott Pocklington again, as the goalkeeper is currently away, but Danny Mellanby is available after Darlington denied him the chance to play on Wednesday night, following his move from the Quakers.
Kris Hughes is nearing a return to the team following injury, but Tom Hinchley is struggling with a hamstring injury.
Kick off is 3pm, admission is £4 adults, £2 for concessions and the programme is 50p.