Mel hoping Pike will shore up defence

Mel Harmison, in charge of the Bedlington squad for Sunday’s clash against an Ashington side at Woodhorn Lane in the Les Alderson Memorial Cup, is hoping the inclusion of Martin Pike will make a big difference in helping to make his defensive unit more watertight.

And Harmison, whose nephew Stephen will again lead out the Colliers side for the 2pm showdown, said he has special plans up his sleeve to curtail the goal scoring habits of striker Alan Hogg, who grabbed a brace last season as the Terriers went down 6-3.

Harmison, 52, is delighted to welcome Pike who is chief scout at Fulham, into this season’s pool of players after the defender was unable to attend the inaugural fixture last August.

Harmison, who has been putting his squad through rigorous training routines over recent weeks, is keen to redress the balance result-wise on Sunday, although he will never lose sight of the number one target, to raise as much finance on the day for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

“Last year we conceded sloppy goals right from the start and I’m hoping Martin can come in and help shore up the defence,” said Harmison, who will again skipper a side which will include John Milner, who was on holiday for last season’s encounter, whilst Dean Gibb – a manager for a telecommunications company – will again head up to the north east from his Southampton base.

“I’ve had full co-operation from the lads who not only enjoyed the occasion last August but who were itching to come back again, and this game will act as a dress rehearsal for the more seriously taken derby between Ashington and Bedlington 24 hours later.

“It was fantastic and amazing for everyone concerned last year, and although we lost, the main priority is to make a lot of money for this worthwhile charity.”

Harmison meanwhile has unveiled plans how he intends to shackle prolific goal scoring machine Alan Hogg.

“Alan doesn’t know this yet but I’m hoping to book him and his family a mini weekend break abroad – just any distraction to make sure he doesn’t scupper our plans for a second year running,” he joked.

Squads – Ashington: Neil Fairbairn, Chris Bannon, Lee Anderson, David Bibby, James Harmison, Stephen Harmison, Phil Nixon, Marc Irwin, Paul Dunn, Derek Atwell, Stu Douglas, Ian Irving, Steven Robson, David Carr, Mark Campbell, Ian Herron, Kane Young, Alan Hogg, Greg Peary, Cristen Priest, Andrew Purivs, Graeme McCabe, Dale Walker, Lee Scott, Andrew Johnson.

Bedlington Terriers: Jonathan Egen, Sean McCafferty, Jon Sokoluk, Mel Harmison, Warren Teasdale, Andy Gowens, Mark Cameron, Tommy Ditchburn, Steven Boon, Andy Bowes, Tony Burgess, Lee Ludlow, Christian Graham, Dean Gibb, Lawrie Pearson, Micky Cross, Gary Middleton, Richie Bond, Robbie Cockburn, John Milner, Steven Preen, Gareth McAlindon, Stephen Locker, Martin Pike.