Glen Robertson previews Aycliffe’s trip to Dunston on Saturday…
Newton Aycliffe are aiming to bounce back from a first loss of 2013 by inflicting a first-ever defeat on Dunston.
In fact, the Newtonians have yet to score past the reigning FA Vase winners. In three meetings, the Royal Blues have scored none and conceded two, with only one point to show for their efforts.
Last weekend Allan Oliver’s men suffered a first reverse of the calendar year, losing 2-1 to an impressive Celtic Nation side whose league position is somewhat misleading.
The Cumbrians are just four points ahead of Aycliffe in 12th place, but they have multiple games in hand over nearly all the teams above them in the table.
One of those are Dunston, who have recovered excellently after a poor start to the season. They briefly languished down in the relegation places, along with Aycliffe, but have re-found the form that saw them lift the Vase at Wembley and challenge for the league title right down to the very last week. They currently sit in eighth place, with 20 games left to play.
Earlier in the season, Billy Irwin’s side handed the Royal Blues a 1-0 defeat at Moore Lane Park as Chris Swailes headed in Terry Galbraith’s set-piece to separate the sides.
It was the exact same combination that handed Dunston victory in the corresponding fixture the season before.
Fortunately for Aycliffe, left-back Galbraith is no longer a Dunston player after he joined league-leaders Darlington before Christmas. But Swailes – whose two goals are the only ones scored in this fixture – remains and will make his presence felt at both ends of the pitch.
For Aycliffe, Stephen Gibson will look to get one over his former club and close friend Stephen Goddard. Long-term injury absentee Mark Peck is still missing while Mark Wood serves the final game of a two-match ban.
The last meeting between the sides at Wellington Road ended goalless, with then-Aycliffe winger Josh Gray missing a penalty. A draw would be a welcome result this time round, ahead of next Saturday’s crucial clash with Newcastle Benfield who are just a point behind in the table.
The game kicks off at 3pm, The UTS Stadium, Wellington Road, Dunston. NE11 9JL