It’s not exactly a must win game, but Seaham Red Star manager Mark Collingwood is under no illusion that his side need to put a winning run together, starting in tomorrow’s clash at Bedlington Terriers.
The Northumbrians are second bottom in Division One and Red Star are just three places and as many points better off.
“Both teams need to put points on the board so it’s a massive game. We’ve only managed two wins and four draws in 11 attempts since gaining promotion last season,” observed Collingwood, whose hopeful that Tony Stephenson will come through a fitness test.
Collingwood added: “We always knew it would be difficult and a learning curve.”
Terriers have two victories and one draw from 12 games and their manager Andy Ferrell reckons it is ‘a must not lose game’.
He said: “No disrespect to Seaham, but I think they’ll be around sixth or seventh off the bottom this season, so we need to start picking up points from teams who are also struggling.”
A double boost is the availability of Keelin Nellis and Lance McGlen, while Ferrell gives himself a 50-50 chance.
Washington have made their exit from both the FA Cup and the FA Carlsberg Vase, but boast the only unbeaten record going into their fixture with Norton and Stockton Ancients at the Nissan Sports Complex.
Manager Steven Hutchinson has made two recent additions to his squad. Conner Okus, signed from Durham City, is set to play his second game and Richard Jordan, the former Sunderland RCA player, also comes into contention.
“They started the season down at the bottom but have picked up lately. There’s no easy games so we’ll not be taking them lightly,” said Hutchinson.
Sunderland RCA face a challenging test at Guisborough Town, who are challenging for pole position.
Manager Martin Swales, who has steered his team to a seven match unbeaten sequence, misses on loan goalkeeper from Sunderland, James Talbot. He is on international duty with Ireland and Jordan Harkness will deputise.
Another absentee is the injured Andrew Brown, while Joe Hughes is struggling with an ankle injury.
It’s been a topsy turvy season so far for Durham City, who are mid-table before hosting Newton Aycliffe at New Ferens Park.
“It’s going to be a tricky game and a very tough proposition. They are doing quite well at the moment, but with Jason Blackburn, James Fairly and Chris Wallace expected to be available, I’ll be able to turn out a strong side,” said manager Ian Chandler.
Shildon lead the table and are favourites to claim all three points at injury-ravaged Ashington, who definitely miss Josh Gray, James Taylor, Paul Dunn and Ben Christensen.
Boss Stephen Harmison, best remembered playing cricket for England and Durham County, have a further six players struggling with injuries.
Second top Morpeth Town are without club captain Chris Jewels and have injury concerns for Shaun Henderson, Keith Graydon, Chris Swailes, Dan Taggart and Shaun Bell for their fixture with Jarrow Roofing, whose manager Richie McLoughlin welcomes the return of Corey Barnes and Anth Myers.
FA Carlsberg Vase holders North Shields have come good following an indifferent start to the season and they’ll be confident against Dunston UTS, who have recently lost prolific scorer Andy Bulford to South Shields and Michael Dixon, who has joined Ashington.