So soon after the postponement of fixtures due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, another weekend will be void of Premier League and Championship action as the international break has begun.
England travel to Italy on Friday before hosting Germany at Wembley on Monday in the last of their Nations League games before this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.
This double header for the Three Lions of course means that there won’t be any games for either Newcastle United or Sunderland this weekend, but if you’ve still got that itch to get to a match this weekend, consider any of these four fixtures from the non-league pyramid in the North East.
1. Hebburn Town vs Stockton Town – FA Trophy Second Round Qualifying
Friday night sees an all Northern Premier League East clash as Hebburn host Stockton in knock-out competition.
Both former Northern League sides, the North East pair have made themselves comfortable at the top end of the Northern Premier East table and this is their first meeting of the campaign.
Hebburn will be looking to make it their second appearance at Non-League Finals Day at Wembley in this decade as they bested Consett to win the FA Vase in 2020.
Stockton will take confidence from their recent record against the Hornets as all three of last season’s meetings in league and cup ended in Anchors victory.
With the sides currently occupying the top two places in the league, this encounter under the lights is must see.
2. Sunderland RCA vs Bishop Auckland – FA Vase Second Round Qualifying
From one FA competition to another as the FA Vase journey begins at Sunderland LGV Park on Saturday for both Sunderland RCA and Bishop Auckland.
Both sides are in fine form in the Northern League Division One – a midweek point for Bishop against Northallerton Town saw them go top on goal difference meanwhile RCA have won four on the bounce, propelling them to sixth in the table.
Bishop Auckland’s games have never failed to entertain this season as they have scored 39 goals in 14 games in all competitions this season, while RCA are the league’s second best defence – only behind Ashington who have only played six Northern League games due to their impressive FA Cup run.
The sides meet again at the LGV in the league next month so this cup contest should provide a good preview of action to come.
3. South Shields vs Atherton Collieries – Northern Premier League
If league action is more to your taste, high flying South Shields may be your destination of choice this Saturday afternoon.
The Mariners are top of the Northern Premier League and unbeaten in their opening eight league fixtures and are looking to make it nine against 12th place Atherton Collieries.
Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips’ first full season in the dugout is off to a rampant start and the former Euoropean Golden Boot winner could be the man to get Shields into the National League set-up.
The affair could be a tense one at Mariners Park as it is a meeting of the division’s two best defences, South Shields have conceded just five this season while Atherton have let in six.
4. Blyth Town vs Boldon CA – Northern League Division Two
Blyth Town have the chance to go three points clear at the top of the Northern League Division Two as they play at home against Boldon CA on Saturday.
Town currently sit second, level on points with leaders Billingham Town who are in Vase action against Sunderland West End. Blyth have played a game less than Billingham and third place Birtley Town (also playing in the Vase this weekend at home to Newton Aycliffe).
Boldon would remain 10th even with a win as their inconsistent start to the season has consisted of five wins, three draws and four defeats.
BONUS CHOICE – Maidenhead United vs Gateshead – National League
Don’t worry, we’re not recommending you make the five hour drive down to Maidenhead this weekend.
If a quiet Saturday in front of the tele sounds like a good idea then you’re in luck as The Heed will be live on BT Sport from 2:30pm as Mike Williamson’s side look to climb away from the National League relegation places.
There are plenty of games to choose from this weekend and these are just the ones selected. A full weekend of FA Trophy, Vase, and league games across the region guarantees the international break won’t be as boring as often portrayed.