It could be a close encounter at Recreation Ground this weekend, two teams with very similar starts to their seasons coming up against each other.
Added to that is the fact it is a Wear-Tyne game, Colliery Welfare coming up against Newcastle Benfield in a Northern League Division One clash.
Benfield sit a place above us on goal difference, the two sides occupying 11th and 12th after taking 16 points from 14 games.
Ryhope will have the home advantage, and Benfield’s main struggles have been away from home having taken just five points from six games compared to 11 from eight at home.
That will hopefully play a part, however they may be spurred on by last week’s FA Vase second round victory over 1874 Northwich who were semi-finalists last season.
Their recent form has been much improved under the guidance of new manager Tom Wade, and they have some very strong players in their squad, the obvious example being attack Paul Brayson who has been a top striker at this level for many years.
Ryhope’s form has been up and down, having gone from four league wins in six to winless in our last two. Last week we were held to a point at home against Newton Aycliffe.
Colliery Welfare did the league double over Benfield last season, winning both games 2-1.
Both games were fiery, entertaining encounters, Colliery Welfare edging Benfield away from home when goals from Joey Melvin and Kyle Davis gave us a 2-0 lead heading into half-time. Benfield came out stronger after the break and got a goal back through Joe Hailes in the 47th minute, but RCW held out for the win.
A 90th minute Corey Nicholson winner gave Ryhope a home win earlier in the season. Nat Skidmore gave RCW the lead with a thunderous effort, before Paul Brayson cancelled it out in the 70th minute. A Kyle Davis cross set-up Nicholson at the back post to win it for Welfare in dramatic circumstances.
It wasn’t all joy against Benfield last season, the Newcastle side knocked us out of the Northern League Cup at the quarter-final stage, goals from Jack Devlin and Paul Brayson cancelling out Joey Melvin’s first-half goal.
It was always a tense, narrow encounter between these two last season, and the signs all point to another fantastic game of football on Saturday. Hopefully, with Sunderland playing away from home on Sunday, we can get a few more people through the gates to watch a Wear-Tyne clash.
Northern League Division One
Venue: Ryhope Recreation Park, Sunderland, SR2 0AB
Date: Saturday, November 10th