Ashington goalkeeper Karl Dryden cannot wait to return to St James’ Park on Wednesday, May 1, when the Colliers face near neighbours Whitley Bay in the final of the Northumberland Senior Cup.
The stopper, an ever present this season, was between the posts for the Woodhorn Lane outfit three years ago when the Seahorses clinched a 2-1 victory.
And he is desperate to keep a clean sheet this time round.
Indeed the last four times the sides have met, 25-year-old Dryden, has been forced to pick the ball out of the net:
“Obviously, the objective is not to concede, especially as it is a final, but I will go about my business as if it was just another game.
“Collectively we need every player on the pitch not only to give 100 per cent but also to play to the best of their ability.
“This game presents us with our only chance for silverware this term so we have all got to perform and be focused right from the start because Whitley Bay always pose a threat.”
Dryden, who has supported Newcastle United since being a boy, draws his inspiration from his hero, former Toon star Shay Given who is now at Aston Villa, as well as the Magpies’ Tim Krul.
“I am happy with my own form, though looking over the season, we have conceded goals at times where we shouldn’t have,” he said.
“Defensively we have been up and down and I don’t think we have kept many clean sheets, but we have also been affected by injuries.”
Dryden is also keeping his fingers crossed for perfect weather conditions.
He added: “Against Newton Aycliffe recently we had to contend with an extremely strong wind.
“Thomas Hinchley scored what proved to be the winner with a 35 yarder which was sweetly struck and it was one of those which as soon as he hit it, I knew I couldn’t do anything about it because it took me by surprise.
“In my eyes, nothing was going to come from it, but it gathered pace and all I could do was to turn my back and watch it hit the net.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be honest, and up until that point I hadn’t had a save to make in the opening quarter hour of the second half – but we were then left chasing the game.”
Dryden admitted that the 2-1 defeat against the Whitley Bay in the 2009-10 final was hard to swallow.
“It is a dream come true to play at St James’ Park again, and I will be in my element,” he said.
“But I have more of a hunger this time round knowing just how disappointed I was when we finished runners-up three years ago.”