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FA Trophy preview: Stockton Town, Ashington, Consett and more

The Isuzu FA Trophy.

All six step four North East teams will be in FA Trophy action this weekend in the competition’s opening stage, with one clash seeing two teams from the region face off.

League new boys Ashington face a short trip to Tyneside where they will meet Dunston UTS – guaranteeing one team from the area to go out. The Colliers haven’t enjoyed the greatest start to their long-awaited return to the Northern Premier League (East), finding themselves one point off the bottom with just one win this season.

Their hosts on the other hand have enjoyed a bright start to this year’s campaign, with Saturday’s defeat to Ashton United not being enough to knock Dunston out of the top five – where two other local sides join them.

One of whom is table-toppers Hebburn Town who have won five of their six in the league so far this season, to continue with the excellent form they boasted last campaign. A bus journey awaits Daniel Moore’s side with a trip to Brighouse Town, who they beat home and away in the league last season.

Hebburn Town came out victorious in the 2020 FA Vase, beating Consett in the final.

An even lengthier trip beckons for Consett, who faced Hebburn in the final of the 2020 FA Vase. This time competing in the Trophy, they must gear up for a nearly 300-mile round trip to Merseyside-based Bootle. The County Durham side will look to rebuild their undefeated streak, which ended at six following their 2-0 defeat against Bradford (Park Avenue) in the FA Cup.

Level on points with both Consett and Dunston, Stockton Town finds themselves narrowly out of the play-off spots on goal difference in the season’s early stages. With plenty of time to bridge the slender gap above them in the league, Stockton will aim to progress to the next round of the Trophy when they host Pontefract Collieries.

A historic day for Newton Aycliffe, who will enter the competition for the first time in their history and will look to inject life into their season – getting off to a slow start in the league, seeing themselves bottom with three points. They will host an unfamiliar foe in a Stocksbridge Park Steels side who they have never played against.

With this the first of three qualifying rounds sides from steps one to three will join as the competition progresses. Morpeth Town will join in the final qualifying round, they will be joined in the second round proper by our four National League North sides. Last year’s finalists, Gateshead, will join the competition in the third round alongside Hartlepool and all other step one clubs.