WASHINGTON manager Richie Latimer is hoping it will be “onwards and upwards” in the new year, starting with tomorrow’s bottom six Second Division clash at Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.
Ahead of the trip to Kingsley Park, Latimer said: “We’ve had a good break and our batteries are recharged.
“We are sixth from the bottom and they are two places below us, so we’ve got to aim for all three points and get back into a decent position.
“Before Christmas, we slipped down the table and my objective is to finish in the top half.”
Goalkeeper Chris Bannen, signed from Hebburn Town, is set to make his debut for the Newtowners and Nicky Evans also comes into contention after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Easington Colliery are another side in trouble. Their fixture on Wednesday night was postponed because of an electrical failure and tomorrow’s game at home to high-fliers North Shields will now kick off at 2pm.
Manager Andy Colledge has James Huntley banned, but he us confident that Callum Sweeney will come though a fitness test.
Easington face a formidable test. North Shields have lost just once in the last 20 games and are unbeaten in 24 away matches.
After being bottom in August, they are now second top, just seven points adrift of Team Northumbria with four games in hand on the leaders.
Robins’ assistant manager Andy Bowman reports that Paul Gordon, Mark Rasmussen and Paul Watson are likely to be added to a full-strength squad
Horden CW are just two points and one place above their neighbours before visiting Thornaby.
Boss Bobby Orton, who recently took charge of the Colliers, expects to field a strong line-up including recent newcomer Liam Dixon.
Brothers Aaran and Andy Ramsbottom, Stephen Jackson and Michael Joseph are also in his plans.
Birtley Town are in sixth position, only three points outside the promotion places.
They are in Carlisle for their fixture with Gillford Park and a big blow is the absence of Dan Smart, who has racked up 17 goals.
Manager Scott Oliver, though, will take a strong squad including captain Andrew Grant Soulsby, Scott Garrett, Kevin Dixon and Dan Hepplewhite.
Last season, Morpeth Town ended rock bottom with only 15 points but they are now seventh with 41 points before their game at Hebburn Town.
Although the Northumbrians miss the suspended Stephen Anderson, manager Nicky Gray, who has transformed the club’s fortunes since his appointment in the summer, has skipper David Histle and Stephen Howes available.
Chester-le-Street moved out of the bottom six with Tuesday’s big win over Seaham Red Star and, at home to promotion challengers Esh Winning, anticipate Chris Dukes, Sam Renwick, James Anderson and Dan Curry joining the squad.