CHESTER-LE-STREET have appointed Grant Crookes as manager to succeed Stuart Sherwood, who is stepping down at the end of the season after more than a decade in charge at Chester Moor Park.
Chairman Joe Burlison said: “We are delighted to have Grant on board. He played for Hartlepool United and Darlington and coached at Halifax Town, Wakefield and Bridlington Town.
“He was also assistant manager at AFC Emley and Eccleshill United, so he has bags of experience”.
Crookes, currently assistant boss at West Allotment, has appointed former Cestrian defender Colin Wake as his assistant.
Burlison added: “We had several applications and went through a very thorough selection process. We believe that Grant will bring a fresh approach.
“He has no pre-conceived ideas but we believe his vast experience will be invaluable.”
Tomorrow, Sherwood will be in charge when Chester attempt to avenge Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat by Northallerton when the sides again meet.
Keeper Alex McKenzie and striker Tony Healer return, but Sherwood must assess the fitness of Craig Marron, Kevin Dixon and Lee Chapman.
Horden CW boss Brian Honour hopes his side will finish out of the bottom three. He said: “We’ve taken seven points from the last four games and, last Saturday, the lads were excellent in defeating Gillford Park.
“Ten of the 11 players who started were under 19 and I firmly believe if we stick together the future looks good.”
Gilberto Chapim, Lee Armes and Simon Ord miss the visit to Birtley Town, but Andrew Richardson is named in another young squad.
Birtley boss Scott Oliver is aiming for a top-half finish. “The lads have done fantastically, considering where we were at the end of last season,” he said. “It would be a real achievement if we can end above midway. Tomorrow is our last home game and hopefully we can make it count.”
Ritchie Latimer and Michael Young come into the reckoning, but John Roseby or Hughie Stephenson are out.
It’s extremely tight at the top, with four teams fighting it out for the two remaining promotion places.
Champions Newton Aycliffe have a free day while second-top Guisborough go to Crook Town.
Marske United moved fourth with last night’s last-gasp 2-1 win at Brandon United, for whom Daniel Corbett scored. John Meehan bagged the winner after home keeper Andrew Wilkinson parried a shot on to the post.