Hall back but Swansbury’s a doubt for Ryhope

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RYHOPE CW have the chance to close the gap on EBAC Northern League leaders Crook Town to eight points when they visit relegation threatened Alnwick Town in the Ebac Northern League Second Division tonight.

Manager Martin Swales welcomes back Phil Hall from suspension and John Butler and James Dunn are also included in the squad but Chris Rookes is a definite absentee and Greg Swansbury will need a late check after being ruled out of Saturday’s match with an eye infection.

The Wearsiders have four games in hand of Crook going into tonight’s fixture as the pair battle for the championship but Ryhope’s first objective is to win promotion at the first attempt.

They are seven points ahead of third-top Jarrow Roofing and 14 in front of North Shields, who are immediately outside the promotion places.

Washington are just a point off mid-table and relaxed before their game at Whitehaven where manager Richie Latimer misses several players.

Injuries sideline Lee Hamilton and Matthew Wade while work commitments prevent Ross Atkinson, Michael Turner and Mark Covell from travelling to Cumbria.

In addition, the availability of Alan Oliver and Chris Tait is in doubt but fortunately Chris Barron and Graeme Carter come into the reckoning.

Chester-le-Street are also sitting comfortable before they host Northallerton Town, who have slipped to eighth in recent weeks.

Cestrian boss Colin Wake says his squad is stretched to the limit. “I’ve definitely got seven players missing and the number could rise to nine but whatever team I turn out the lads will give it their best shot.”

Injuries prevent Ian Davison, Anthony Burnell, Adam Smith, Lewis Brown and Craig Mickle from playing while Michael Robson is banned and Nick Gibson is working. Meanwhile, David Short and Michael Graver are uncertain as to whether they will be available.

Brandon United, six points and three places above the relegation zone, face up to Morpeth Town who are in a strong position to mount an end-of-season challenge for promotion since they have several games in hand on the five teams above them.

In Division One, West Auckland Town will reduce Darlington 1883s lead at the top to 18 points if they defeat Consett who eased their relegation fears with a win at the week-end.

Dunston UTS have slipped down to seventh and could again find it difficult at home to Team Northumbria, who are now able to field stronger sides with the completion of most of the University side’s fixtures.