Easington Colliery have a bit of ground to make up, but they are still in contention for one of the three promotion places in Division Two.
They face Team Northumbria at Welfare Park in a crucial top-six game and it’s a case of three in and three out for Paul Frame’s squad.
Newcomer Stephen Bogie pulled up when he made his debut and could be out for a few weeks with a calf injury, Brad Varga serves a one-match ban and work commitments prevent Ian Redman from playing. But Bryan Norton, Shaun Smith and Shane O’Brien come in for what is a real six-pointer.
The top game is between leaders South Shields and fourth-placed Chester-le-Street at Mariners Park.
Shields boss Jon King said: “Chester-le-Street get the ball forward very quickly. That will keep our defenders in the game – they will have to defend a lot of long balls.
“It will be tough, because Chester-le-Street have the league’s top goalscorer in their ranks and are up near the top of the table for a reason. They are direct and work really hard for each other.”
The Cestrians trail their hosts by 12 points but are just two adrift of third-top Billingham Synthonia, who visit Whickham and miss goalkeeper Jack McLaren for a month with a knee injury.
Ryhope CW are second, six points behind Shields with a game in hand, before travelling down the A19 for their fixture with Billingham Town.
Brandon Alderson, who celebrated his 17th birthday yesterday, has impressed manager Gary Pearson and could line up in defence alongside Rob Hall.
But the Wearsiders have suffered a big blow with the news that club captain Phil Hall could miss the remainder of the season.
Another absentee tomorrow is goalkeeper Chris Rookes. Antony Lowerson, who starred in the victory over Whickham on Tuesday night, will again deputise.
Recent signings Rhys Williams from Durham City and Ollie Hotchkiss (Ashington) are also set to be involved at some stage.
Hebburn Town, away to Crook Town, Hebburn drew 0-0 miss five players.
Chris Smith and Alan Pegram have work commitments, James Talbot and Craig Malley hamstring strains, while Ally Downey is unavailable. Chris Feasey needs a fitness test, while Mick Watson returns from Tow Law.