Whitley Bay prepare for Congleton FA Cup test

Adam Shanks, who scored the winner for Whitley Bay against Heaton Stannington in the FA Cup.

Adam Shanks, who scored the winner for Whitley Bay against Heaton Stannington in the FA Cup.

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After their derby day victory over neighbours North Shields, Whitley Bay face another tough game when they host Congleton Town in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.

Only five north east sides have reached this stage of the competition, with some of the more fancied teams already falling by the wayside.

Last year’s giant killers Blyth Spartans fell at the first hurdle this time, as did Darlington, and Whitley are now the only survivors from North Tyneside and Northumberland.

A big crowd is expected at Hillheads when Whitley, unbeaten in their last six games, will be hopeful of making further progress at the expense of the North West Counties League visitors.

The teams, who played each other regularly when members of the Northern Premier League back in the 1990s, met in the FA Vase second round last season with Bay emerging 1-0 winners in Cheshire thanks to Peter Watling’s first half goal.

Last week’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over higher ranked Matlock has given Whitley the belief that they can overcome fellow step five side Congleton, but they are taking nothing for granted and with no midweek fixture, will be making full use of the time to prepare for a game where the victors will receive £4,500 in prize money.

The good news for Bay is that top scorer Adam Shanks will be available after returning from holiday, and suspensions following the Matlock game will not take effect until the following week.

If the game ends in a draw after 90 minutes, the tie will be replayed at Congleton on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm.

If the game is decided on Saturday, Whitley are due to play Newton Aycliffe at Hillheads on Tuesday, kick-off 7.30pm, but with the Newtonians also in FA Cup action this weekend, at home to North Ferriby, a draw in that game would also mean the postponement of the scheduled league fixture.

Fans are advised to check the club website www.whitleybayfc.com for the latest information.