Managers expecting a tough FA Vase encounter

Newcastle Benfield boss Steve Bowey and his counterpart Gary Middleton at Ashington have a couple of things in common as both sides prepare for Saturday’s mouth-watering clash in the second round of the FA Carlsberg Vase at Sam Smith’s Park.

Speaking ahead of the 3pm showdown, both bosses are adamant that it will nothing less than a tough game –- and they are also united in their views that they would have preferred to have met opposition from outside the Ebac Northern League.

However, despite being a floor fitter by trade, Bowey will not be rolling out the red carpet for his visitors from Wansbeck.

“Games against Ashington are always tough and I wish we had been drawn against another outfit,” he said.

“But the fact that we have home advantage at least makes it a bit easier for us.

“They beat us recently in the league game at our place so we will be wanting revenge – and that should act as an extra spur and incentive for my lads.”

He added: “We had a great run in the competition last season when we got through to the quarter-finals only to lose to St Andrews, so we will be wanting to improve on that and go at least one step further this time round.”

The 40-year-old revealed that he will concentrate all his energy from the dugout on Saturday.

“I tore my calf at Consett recently, and if that wasn’t enough I had an operation on my big toe last week, so I reckon I’ll be sidelined for six to eight weeks,” he said.

“I’m gutted that I can’t feature.”

Bowey, who hopes to be rid of his crutches by Saturday, should be able to select from a full squad including Richie Slaughter, who returned to Benfield from Ashington a couple of weeks ago.

He added: “Dillon Morse and Michael Riley are both on trial with Carlisle United and Hartlepool this week, so having a week of full-time training should boost their preparation for the Vase game.”

Middleton said: “It’s a very tough draw away from home and against a fellow team in the Northern League, which is something we would have preferred to avoid.

“Howeve,r we go into it in good heart and full of confidence as we protect a five-game unbeaten run.

“We just need to perform to the standards which we expect, and if we do that then we will have a good chance of progressing.

“This will be a different match to the recent league clash because it is a one off – and both sides know plenty about each other.

“But we know we will have to be at the top of our game to curtail the threat of twin strikers Paul Brayson and Dan Taylor and prevent them from being on the score sheet.”