Whitley Bay looking to fly flag for north east non league sides in FA Cup

Whitley Bay striker Adam Shanks.
Whitley Bay striker Adam Shanks.

Whitley Bay will be flying the flag for the north east on Saturday when they take on Chorley at Hillheads in the third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.

They are the last surviving Northern League team in the competition and with Blyth Spartans, Spennymoor and Darlington having already fallen by the wayside, Paddy Atkinson’s men carry the hopes of the region this weekend.

With no Premier League action due to the international break, Whitley are hoping that fans of Newcastle and Sunderland will help swell what is expected to be a bumper crowd.

Atkinson’s team are currently unbeaten in eight games but opponents Chorley will provide their toughest test of the season to date.

The Lancashire side, managed by former Premier League striker Matt Jansen, are lying ninth in the Vanamara National League North, which is three divisions above the Northern League, making this contest the equivalent of a League Two side taking on Premier League opposition.

However, Whitley have already overcome Matlock Town, who are just one division below Chorley, and will go into the game boosted by the return of top scorer Adam Shanks.

The former Alnwick Town striker has proved a revelation since his arrival at Hillheads in the summer, scoring 14 goals in 12 games.

New signing Michael Bell is cup tied having featured for Ashington in the earlier stages of the competition while 18-year-old Robbie Williamson also misses the game as he completes a three-match suspension.

However, Atkinson is hopeful that captain Michael Laws, along with midfielder Sam Norris, will be available for selection.

Kick-off is 3pm and the winners will progress to the final qualifying round, just 90 minutes away from a possible game against Football League opposition.

In the event of a draw, the replay will take place at Chorley on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm.

If the game is decided on Saturday, Whitley will be at home to top of the table Shildon on Tuesday in their first league game since their memorable victory at North Shields three weeks ago.