Birtley Town will host neighbours, and holders, Chester-le-Street Town on Tuesday evening as the Quarter Finals of the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup get under way. Two ties will be played on Tuesday and the remaining two will be played the following night. This is arguably the tie of the round and its a local derby to boot.
Our only meeting this season was originally scheduled to be played on Non League Day in October but with permission from the League and our opponents, the decision was made to bring the game forward by 24 hours to the Friday night in order to maximise the attendance as one of just two games being played that day. I'm not 100% sure what Birtley's highest attendance is but this game attracted 244 through the gate so if it wasn't our largest attendance, it was certainly very close to it!
Chester won that game 2-1 with two first half goals and although Birtley pulled one back minutes into the second half, the Cestrians held on to take the three points on a miserable night, weather wise.
The visitors began their defence of the cup with a 3-1 first round win against Billingham Synthonia before edging out Brandon United in a nine-goal thriller to win their second round tie 5-4. Birtley, having received a bye in the first round, put four goals past Esh Winning in the second round thanks to a hat-trick from Aaron McEwen, his third goal in particular grabbing the headlines.
Coming into Tuesday's game, Chester were 2-1 winners away to Esh Winning on Saturday afternoon where a goal in each half from Kieran Megran and Joe Hailes was enough despite Esh pulling one back seconds after Chester had doubled their lead. That win for Chester saw them cement fourth place. Birtley's game away at Easington was postponed late on Thursday afternoon due to the ongoing works at their ground not being finished in time and the Hoops sit in 14th place.
For Birtley, centre half Connor Lane sits out after amassing five cautions as do recent signings Kallum Hampson-Broadhead and striker James Davidson who are both cup-tied. For Chester, Michael Graver who rejoined Chester from Birtley in November is also cup-tied.
Wadgey's Bar will be open from 6pm where you can get yourself a bite to eat and/or a few drinks and the game kicks off at 7:30pm. As with previous rounds, if the scores are level at full time, the game will be decided on penalties. Get yourself down to the Robinson Heating & Plumbing Stadium to support the two sides if you love your non-league football, it promises to be a cracker!
If you are bringing your car to the ground, PLEASE reverse park. If you do this, there will be room for more cars. Please don't park sideways and please don't leave a 10ft gap between your vehicle and the one next to you. We have a tape measure and we're not afraid to use it.
Once the car park is full, you can then use the forecourt of First Class Commercials across the road (next to the caravan shop) and the surrounding streets but DO NOT use the Leisure Centre car park as that closes at 9pm sharp and we don't have a key!