In the most eye-catching and attractive tie of the competition so far, four-time winners Whitley Bay take on the 2012 winners Dunston UTS in the Third Round of the FA Vase at Hillheads on Saturday.
The sides met at the same stage of the competition last season, also at Hillheads, and on that occasion, a lacklustre Bay side were beaten 2-0 so this tie gives Leon Ryan and his side the opportunity to exact revenge over their Tyneside rivals.
It will be a far from easy task however, with Dunston currently third in the Ebac Northern League First Division, 12 points ahead of Whitley but having played three more games.
Whilst league positions favour the visitors, current form certainly sees Whitley with the advantage, coming into the game on a four match winning run, their best of the season.
In contrast, Dunston’s recent form has been mixed, with three wins and three defeats in their last six games and on Saturday they were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at home by Ashington.
The game also sees two of the most prolific goal scorers in non-league football coming face to face with Bay’s Paul Chow, currently on 269 goals for the club, up against Dunston’s Andrew Bulford, who has just passed the 200 mark. Few would bet against one or both getting on the score sheet this weekend.
In terms of team selection, the good news for Whitley is that Paul Robinson is available having completed his suspension while Michael Laws and Brad Brooking are expected to have recovered from injury.
It is very difficult to predict the outcome of this tie but one thing is certain, the winners will have cleared a major hurdle and will be strongly fancied to reach Wembley next May.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 3pm and if necessary, extra time will be played and if the sides are still level, there will be a replay at Dunston on Tuesday evening.
In that event, Whitley’s scheduled North Tyneside derby at home to North Shields on Tuesday evening would be postponed, as it would if the Robins are involved in a Vase replay. For the latest information, check the club website www.whitleybayfc.com