Whitley Bay to host Spennymoor in Cleator Cup

Whitley Bay begin their competitive season on Saturday when they contest the Cleator Cup against Spennymoor Town at Hillheads.

This is the Ebac Northern League’s equivalent of the FA Community Shield, where the champions take on the League Cup winners in the traditional season opener.

This season should have seen Darlington take on Spennymoor but the champions, now promoted to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, were unable to fit the game into their pre-season schedule.

As League Cup winners Spennymoor also finished second in the league, third placed Whitley were invited to host the fixture.

This means a quick return to Hillheads for former Bay stalwarts Lee Kerr and Kyle Hayes, who joined Spennymoor during the close season.

With former skipper Leon Ryan also in the ranks of the visitors, three former Whitley favourites could feature in the game.

Spennymoor won the FA Vase last season and having strengthened their squad even further during the summer, will be hot favourites not only for this game but also to win the title in the coming season.

Whitley go into the game without Chris Reid, who has work commitments abroad, while Chris Fawcett looks likely to miss out through injury.

This will be the second time that Whitley have contested the Cleator Cup, the previous occasion as champions in 2007, when they defeated Newcastle Benfield on penalties after the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Bay’s final pre-season friendly against Darlington, scheduled for Tuesday evening, was called off as the Quakers were unable to field a team with several players unavailable through injury.

It is hoped that the game can be rearranged for a future date.

In their previous contest, Whitley twice came from behind to defeat West Allotment Celtic 3-2 with the goals coming from Liam McBryde, Paul Chow and Brad Brooking.