Whitley Bay hope for improved form in FA Vase at Congleton

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Whitley Bay make the 175-mile trip to Congleton in Cheshire this weekend when they return to FA Vase action, determined to put last week’s two heavy defeats behind them as they aim for another successful run in the national competition they made their own from 2009 to 2011.

Having faced Northern League opponents in the previous two rounds, it will be a welcome change to take on a side from a different league, although Congleton are no strangers as the sides met regularly during their Northern Premier League days.

They were also drawn together at the same stage of the FA Vase in 2006 when Whitley returned from Booth Street with a 3-1 victory.

A similar outcome this weekend would be welcome for a Bay side that has struggled to find consistency all season.

The injuries that have beset Leon Ryan’s side throughout the current campaign remain a headache for the manager, with Craig Smith the latest long term absentee after dislocating his hip at Seaham last week.

Midfielder Paul Robinson also misses the game as he begins a three-match suspension, but there are hopes that Alex Kempster may be fit enough to play a part in the game while Callum Anderson could return to the starting 11.

To help the players prepare for the game the team will travelling on Friday evening while on Saturday morning, Whitley Bay Supporters’ Club have a full coach of fans making the trip, hoping to cheer the side to victory and a place in the third round of the competition.

Ryan watched Congleton in action last week and like Whitley, they have not been in the best of form recently, drawing one and losing two of their last three games.

They are currently eighth in the North West Counties League, with eight wins from 21 games.

They are the division’s draw specialists and should the tie be undecided after extra time, the replay would take place at Hillheads on Tuesday evening with a 7.45pm kick-off.

That would replace the currently scheduled Northern League game at home to Newcastle Benfield on the same evening, which would only go ahead if they too did not have a FA Vase replay that night.