Brian Honour: We’ve got to win the basement battle

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HORDEN CW manager Brian Honour describes tomorrow’s STL Northern League Second Division game at Whitehaven as of “major, major importance.”

He said: “We are at the basement and they are just above us so a win would lift us off the bottom for the first time in weeks.

“I don’t need to dress the game in any other way. It’s a must-win match and I’ve told the lads we’ll have to be at our best individually and collectively.

“Until last week, we had been doing reasonably well but we’ve put in a poor performance against Brandon United. We had a heart-to-heart talk after the game and I know the lads are really up for tomorrow’s task.”

Michael Joseph and Andrew Summerbell are unavailable but Chris Baxter, Lloyd Evans and Jordan Lavery make the journey. Honour’s only doubt is Stephen Jackson with a back injury.

Chester-le-Street have climbed out of the bottom three and at Morpeth Town manager Anth Smith will field goalkeeper Chris Rookes, signed from Easington Colliery and Paul Wardle, who has returned to the club from Jarrow Roofing.

One-club man Robbie Draper, who has made 311 appearances for the Cestrians, has played his last game before moving to Australia on Monday.

“Robbie has been absolutely fantastic for us. You don’t get many players these days who stick with a club and Robbie has been an exception.

“We are so grateful to him and wish him all the best Down Under,” said chairman Joe Burlison.

Morpeth Town, who won only 15 points last season, are much improved this time and are tenth with 27 points.

Nick Grey, a former Chester-le-Street player, took over during the closed season and has transformed the Northumbrian’s fortunes.

He misses suspended pair Mark Walmsley and Tom Wilson but Stephen Anderson and Phil Cartwright return.

Seaham Red Star are sixth from bottom before the visit of leaders Team Northumbria.

“It’s going to be tough but we’ll give them a good game. We were disappointing last week at Esh Winning but I rate them very highly and they are now second top but will have to be at out best to take anything from Team,” observed assistant manager Kevin Turns, who reports that Anth Laidler, Adam Ward and Michael Turnbull are all ruled out.

Birtley Town, on the fringe of the promotion race, have signed Tony Healer whose last club was Chester-le-Street.

He goes straight into the squad against Darlington RA but Andy Inness is a non-starter while James Allsopp will need a late check on his fitness.

North Shields are third behind Team Northumbria and Esh Winning. Following three games they were bottom but have taken 31 points out of the last 42 and at home to Northallerton Town welcome the inclusion of Paul Dunn.

There is a reduced programme of only five games in Division One.

South Shields, whose form has improved in recent weeks, have the chance to move out of the bottom six but could find it difficult at home to Bishop Auckland who have steadily made their way up the table with recent results.

Newton Aycliffe could go third if they defeat second-from-bottom Tow Law while Stokesley SC, with just one point out of 60 could again find the going difficult at Penrith.