Ryhope CW, with just one league win in seven games since making the step up to Division One, renew acquaintance with South Shields tomorrow.
Gary Pearson’s men were runners-up to champions Shields in Division Two last term, but they have found life in the top flight hard.
The visit to Mariners Park to take on the big-spending joint leaders is another tough task for Ryhope, especially as they are without Tom Bott and Stephen Francis, who are both suspended.
Elliott Woods is on holiday and striker Conor Winter is injured, but Matty Weirs returns to the squad.
Ryhope have drawn at champions Shildon this season and will hope to spring another surprise against Shields, who are set to attract another 1,000-plus crowd.
Shields, fresh from beating Washington in midweek, have a full squad to select from, with only Ben Clark facing a late fitness test after a knock in midweek. Stephen Ramsey is expected to step up his return from injury with an appearance for the club’s reserves, but David Foley and Gavin Cogdon are expected to remain out.
Chris Reay commented from the club: “The team is starting to gel quite nicely at the moment and new joint manager Graham Fenton spoke to all the players on Tuesday night.”
Joint manager Lee Picton said: “We had a good training session on Thursday and have prepared properly.
“We’ve watched and reviewed the footage from Tuesday’s game, have picked out some key points and will look to make progress.”
Sunderland RCA travel to Guisborough, who have conceded 10 goals in losing their last two home matches, including eight to North Shields.
Meadow Park manager Martin Swales, looking to recover from the last-gasp loss at Whitley Bay on Tuesday, has a few decisions to make as Ross McNab and James Cassidy are on holiday, while Colin Larkin has a groin injury and Danny Lay is at work.
Clayton Davis is available, though, along with Craig Hodgson, James Armstrong and Steven Stewart.
Guisborough are still missing attacking midfielders Thibault Charmey and Pete Bulmer (both suspended) and there are injury doubts over defender Joe Ferguson and midfielder Kyran Clarke. Otherwise, boss Steve Dowling has a full squad to pick from.
Whitley Bay will travel to Jarrow Roofing in buoyant mood after their dramatic last-minute winner against Sunderland RCA in midweek.
Callum Anderson picked up an ankle injury in that game and is rated doubtful, as is defender Nicky Allen, while Callum Munro is unavailable.
Richard Flynn is out with a long-term knee injury, but defender Ryan Keltie could make his first start of the season after coming off the bench for 45 minutes on Tuesday night.
Whitley have scored at least two goals in every league game so far, and will be hoping to maintain that record at Roofing when they come up against their former FA Vase-winning hero Paul Chow, who scored 270 goals in over 400 appearances for Bay.
Roofing’s long-term injury victim Corey Barnes is joined on the sidelines by Adam Sakr and captain Alex White.
Jamie Marshall and Kyran Whitehead are both unavailable, while Dan Kirkup serves the second game of a four-match ban.
Michael Laws should also miss the game, with the defender expected to complete a transfer away before the match.
Dunston UTS entertain Newton Aycliffe and will have Dan Smith, Matty Fisher, Joe Hailes, Jak Ashton and Dan Halliday available after their FA Cup replay in midweek.
Shildon, with four wins and three draws in an unbeaten league start, face a big challenge away to Morpeth Town, who are in mid-table but have suffered just one defeat.
North Shields, top of the table on goal difference from South Shields, host Marske.