Stockton Town are hoping to bounce back from their first league defeat in almost a year when they face West Auckland in the EBAC Northern League at Bishopton Road West on Saturday.

Stockton, who were all but promoted last season before Covid ended the season prematurely, lost at Sunderland RCA in midweek, their first league defeat since October 2019.

Manager Micky Dunwell said; “We’d be worried if we weren’t controlling games which we are – we just need to start finishing our chances earlier.

“But it will be a difficult game as West will be looking for their first win in the league after a surprisingly difficult start. They’ll be looking for points too, so it will be a difficult one.”

West are bottom of the table, without a point in three games, and have conceded fourteen goals in the process. Dan Mitton, Evan Horwood, Adam Mitchell, David Dowson, Leon Scott and Nathan Fisher are all missing.

The road to the Vase starts today, with last season’s final between Hebburn and Consett still to be played.

Northallerton are looking for revenge against Billingham Town, who beat them 4-1 in the FA cup earlier in the season.

Northallerton have improved since then, but they will be without suspended pair John Howard and Andrew Shepherd because of suspension.

Crook Town have an attractive home game against Albion Sports from the Northern Counties East League.

They had an excellent 3-0 win at West Allotment in midweek, and manager Jamie Tunstall said; “We’re really looking forward to Saturday off the back of a great win in midweek.

“Albion will be a tough test and again in a cup competition we find ourselves up against a team from a higher division. We’ve done really against two good sides in the FA cup, so I’ve no reason to doubt we’ll not be able to do that again I’m expecting a tough physical test.”

Harrison Scott is out, while another four could be unavailable.

Bishop Auckland, whose manager Ian Chandler knows plenty about Vase finals, are at home to Billingham Synthonia.

Bishops have played much better in the FA Cup than the league so far this season, and in midweek lost to Whitley Bay in the league.

Chandler, who guided Whitley Bay to three Vase final wins at Wembley, said; “I will be making several changes after our defeat in midweek.”

Kyle Morris and Jamie Marshall are both out injured, while Chris Winn will have a fitness test and Mark Dixon should return.

Shildon, who reached the semis in 2013, face Chester-le-Street at Dean Street.

Midfielder Jordan Lavery is out because of suspension, so the Railwaymen have re-signed Matty Robson to replace him. Striker Michael Sweet is out because of injury, while midfielder David Palmer will have a fitness test. Defender Dom Curl should return.

Chester will be missing Kevin and Liam Dixon as well as Alex Ramshaw, and manager Colin Wake said; “Obviously it will be a very tough game for us against first division opposition whom we have watched twice this week.

“We know the task ahead of us and we know that we need to be at our very best and for them to have an off day for us to have a chance on the day. But we will go there and try and be solid and see if we can cause an upset.”

Willington face Whickham from the ENL First Division, and they will be missing Reece Marshall because of suspension from a red card six months ago, but Evan Suddick returns.

Manager Ibby Hassan said; “Playing any first division side will be difficult. Whickham are a very solid outfit with plenty of quality. The Vase gives us a chance to maybe experiment with the formation as the pressure is off us. Hopefully, we can take something from the game.”

Tow Law, who reached the final in 1998, are at North Shields, the 2015 winners.

Lawyers manager Micky Vasey said; “We have a lot of injured players against a very good North Shields team, but anything can happen in the Vase.”

Newton Aycliffe face Barnoldswick from the North West Counties League in the other game.