THESE are difficult times for Easington Colliery, but manager Andy Colledge is determined to steer the side to safety in the STL Northern League’s Second Division.
Ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Morpeth Town, the Colliers are stranded at the bottom of the table but Colledge, who recently returned to the club following a six match absence, believes that they are capable of avoiding the drop.
He said: “I think we have enough to stay up. I’ve been busy bringing in players to boost the squad and hopefully we can get a result at Craik Park to kick-start the season”.
Colledge has signed Dean Caris from Washington, Dale Crawford (Ryton and Crawcrook Albion), Michael McVay (Ryhope CW), and Daniel Sanders, who previously played for Crook Town. In addition, Simon Todd has returned from Peterlee Town.
The five newcomers all come into contention as do Rob Huntley and Callum Sweeney but Danny Flounders, Chris Tarn, Martin Langley and Chris Hall are injured.
Horden CW are another side in trouble, just five points ahead of their East Durham neighbours.
On Wednesday, they parted company with Brian Honour and the former Doncaster Rovers and Gateshead goalkeeper Bobby Orton, who has considerable experience in the STL, takes charge for the visit of Chester-le-Street. A definite absentee is Jack Honour who is on duty with the Durham County Youth Squad.
Chester-le-Street are fifth from the basement and have signed Lee Richardson from Morpeth Town. Dan Smith and Sam Renwick are also named as the Cestrians attempt back-to-back victories.
Washington host Thornaby and Manager Richie Latimer hopes that the signing of Chris Compson from Team Northumbria will be completed in time for him to make his debut.
Joe Elliott has moved to Hebburn Town and Latimer also misses Nicky Evans and Colin White but John Wear, Mark Covell and Graeme Carter are back.
North Shields are five points behind leaders Team Northumbria, believe they have created an STL Northern League record by going undefeated in 24 away games.
The Robins will end 2011 undefeated in 20 games on opponents’ soil.
Tomorrow, they aim to take another step towards promotion when they line up with Crook Town at the Daren Persson Stadium.
Seaham Red Star, sixth from bottom, make the short journey to Brandon Utd who are just two places above Steve Cook’s side.
In Division One, West Auckland Town meet Shildon in a local derby and following their midweek victory which moved them into the top half of the table, Shildon are confident of giving their neighbours a good game.
Whitley Bay are on-song but will be wary of South Shields who in midweek led West Auckland by four goals before having to settle for a point.
Whitley have Gareth Williams, Craig McFarlane and Gary Ormston on the injured list and a further headache for Manager Dean Chandley is that Callum Anderson and Chris Fawcett are suspended.
Dunston UTS are also in the Championship frame and at home to Marske United, boss Billy Irwin is delighted to have regular marksman Andrew Bulford available.
Spennymoor Town are fifth before meeting Bishop Auckland on another derby game which could prove testing for Jason Ainsley’s side since Bishop’s have caused one or two upsets this season.
Billingham Synthonia entertain Bedlington Terriers with doubts surrounding injured pair Shay Little and Danny Earl while Consett, surprisingly sixth from bottom, travel to Penrith minus Carl Piecha, Ryan Bell and Dale Burrell.