Weekend Preview

Boro boss Aitor Karanka will watch this weekend’s game against Derby County from the stands after receiving a touchline ban.

The punishment from the FA is in relation to his outburst towards the officials following Rudy Gestede’s controversial equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

An FA statement read (displayed on http://www.mfc.co.uk/): “Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today [Wednesday 10 December 2014], Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka will serve a one-match touchline ban with immediate effect.

“Karanka, who was also fined £2,000, admitted an FA charge of improper conduct in relation to his behaviour during stoppage time at the end of the game against Blackburn Rovers on 29 November 2014.”

The ban comes at the worst possible time with Boro facing league leaders Derby at the Riverside this Saturday. The Rams dismantled Brighton last weekend by scoring three goals in the first twenty minutes to wrap up the points before halftime.

Aitor Karanka is all too aware of the threat Derby pose: “Derby are the best team in the league in my opinion, and after that game we have Ipswich. They will be difficult games.”

The game is not only the meeting of two the league’s top teams, it is also another return to the Riverside for Steve McClaren. The Derby manager made a disappointing return for the first time last season as Boro beat Derby 1-0 to end their dreams of finishing in an automatic promotion spot.

The Riverside has proved place to come for Derby in the past, the Rams have not won a game at the Riverside since 2000 when a brace from Malcolm Christie and goals from Deon Burton and Craig Burley sealed a 4-1 win for the Rams in a game that was in the Premier League at the time.

Given Derby’s recent away form, Boro do have something to be confident about heading into the game. Derby have lost two of their last three away league games, losing to Brentford and Leeds. On the other hand, Boro have not won at home in their last two games at the Riverside drawing with Bournemouth and Blackburn.

Whatever the outcome this Saturday, it’s set up to be another Championship cracker.

Northern League Division One

Billingham Synthonia got over their 6-0 defeat at Guisborough at the weekend by securing a point at Consett on Tuesday. Joe Carter gave Synners the lead before Michael Mackay scored from the spot to earn a point for the hosts.

This weekend they face high-flying North Shields at the Motif8 Stadium. The Robins have won four of their last five league games and are second after a 4-2 derby win over Whitley Bay on Tuesday night.

Much of their form has been down to the goals of Gareth Bainbridge, the former Ashington striker has scored 30 goals for the Shields this season in all competitions. Fortunately for Synthonia, Bainbridge will be missing for this Saturday’s game after picking up an injury on Tuesday night which will keep him out for the Christmas period.

Marske United will move into second in the league this weekend should they beat Celtic Nation at home and Billingham Synthonia beat North Shields. The Seasiders are unbeaten since October in the league and their last two home games have seen them win 4-1 against Barton Old Boys and West Allotment Celtic.

Opponents Celtic Nation are 16th in the table and have yet to win an away game in the league this season. However, they did earn a credible 1-1 draw in their last away game at Jarrow Roofing.

This is the second time the two sides have met, last time out Marske claimed a 3-2 win in Carlisle.

Guisborough Town will looking to consolidate 6th place this weekend when they welcome Ashington to the King George V Ground. The Priorymen are on a high having beat Billingham Synthonia 6-0 last weekend with six different scorers on the scoresheet.

They are on fine run of form in the league having won their last three games against Billingham Synthonia (two) and Dunston UTS.

Ashington may be 13th in the league but they have only suffered one defeat in their last eight league games. On Tuesday night they beat Durham City 2-0 to move within five points of the top ten.

Their main threat will be former Newcastle United junior Marc Walton who has scored 9 league goals this season. He added more to his season tally on Tuesday with a brace in the win over Durham.

This is the second meeting of the clubs this season, last time out they drew 0-0 in Northumberland on a Tuesday night in August.

Northern League Division Two

Norton & Stockton will be hoping to stay ahead of Seaham Red Star in the title race when they play Hebburn Town at the Norton Sports Complex.

The Ancients are unbeaten in their last six league games and have won four them- scoring 16 goals in the process. Last time out they secured a 2-2 draw at Darlington RA with Harrison Davies and Rocky Andrews on the scoresheet.

Hebburn Town have yet to play this December with their last game being a 1-0 win over Billingham Town at home. They are in 5th position in the league and can’t move any higher since eight points separate them from 4th place Team Northumbria.

They will be seeking to cement their 5th place as just four points are between the Hornets and 13th place Northallerton in league and on Saturday five clubs could overtake them.

Channon North will be the focus of the Hebburn Town attack, the former Hebburn Reyrolle striker has scored over 25 goals this season and is well in the running of winning the golden boot for Division Two.

Thornaby are one of those clubs looking to move into 5th place this weekend when they travel Seaham Red Star. The Blues could have their work cut out against a Seaham side that have not lost since a 4-1 defeat to Thornaby in the reverse fixture back in August.

Like Seaham, Thornaby have showed their quality in recent weeks with everything coming together last week as they swept aside Billingham Town 6-1. Curtis Edwards proved the difference between the clubs with the former Boro striker scoring a hat trick at Bedford Terrace.

Thornaby will have to be wary of Sonny Andrews and David Palmer when they face Red Star, the forwards have scored over 30 goals between them in a side that have scored 39 goals at home this season- the most in the division.

Billingham Town are also involved in a difficult away fixture as they travel to Team Northumbria. Town have lost their last three league games, losing to Darlington RA, Hebburn Town and Thornaby. Still despite the recent poor form, their away record reads well with just two defeats on the road in the league this season.

Team Northumbria are not in greatest form themselves having won just one game in their last five. Although that was a 4-0 win at Heaton Stannington in their last league game.

Ben Dibb-Fuller and David Dormand will be the danger men for the home side, the pair have scored 28 goals between them this season. Dormand did scored 11 of them for West Allotment Celtic, the 25-year-old recently signed for Team North from West Allotment at the back end of November.

This is the third meeting of the sides this season, Team Northumbria got the better of Billingham Town at Bedford Terrace on two occasions- winning 3-1 in the league and 4-1 in the league cup.

Stokesley will hope to win their first game since October when they host Tow Law Town. The North Yorkshire club have lost their last four games in all competitions and have conceded 14 goals in the process.

Tow Law meanwhile have not been in the best of form either with no win since a 1-0 triumph away at Team Northumbria in September. They welcome in their new managerial duo this week with Steve Murray and Kevin Dixon taking the reins.

Whoever takes the victory will take a significant step towards ensuring their Northern League status for another season by opening the gap between themselves and bottom side Brandon United.

Shipowners Charity Cup

There is an all Teesside affair in the Shipowners Charity Cup Semi Final as Stockton Town host Redcar Athletic. Stockton will hope to continue their fantastic season, the wearside league leaders have yet to lose at home this season and have scored 85 goals in the league so far.

Redcar Athletic are going well in the league too and are 4th after 21 games. In the cup they have beaten Richmond and Boldon at home to qualify for this stage.

It should be a tough fought game at Bishopton Road West on Saturday. Stockton Town have not lost since early November, while Redcar have lost just two games in their last 15.

It will also be battle of the forwards as two of the Wearside League’s best strikers in Chris Stockton (Stockton Town) and Adam Preston (Redcar Athletic) go head to head. Preston is currently winning the battle in the league with 20 goals this season compared to Stockton’s 19.

Last time the two sides met in the league, Stockton Town came away from Redcar Athletic with a 6-1 victory.

Wearside League Cup

Wolviston will pleased to be out of league action as they travel to Jarrow FC in the League Cup. Wolviston have not won a game since they beat Harton and Westoe 5-1 back in October.

Jarrow are also languishing in 16th place but they have lost just one of their five games in all competitions. Last time out they drew 5-5 at home to Richmond Town.


Karanka will in the stands for Saturday's game

Karanka will in the stands for Saturday’s game


















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