A good old-fashion Division One derby is in prospect tomorrow when local rivals Washington and Sunderland RCA lock horns at the Nissan Sports Complex.
With several players on both teams having played for the other side, an interesting contest is on the cards.
“We lost the reverse fixture when, quite frankly, we had a bad day, but following back-to-back wins, I’m confident of getting revenge,” said Mechanics boss Steve Hutchinson.
“There’s still a lot to play for and I want to end the season as we began – on a high.”
Adam McGuinness has completed a ban and comes into Hutchinson’s plans, but Chris Wallace is suspended.
RCA manager Martin Swales was “bitterly disappointed” at his team’s 1-0 defeat to North Shields on Tuesday.
He said: “We battered them in the first half but paid the price for not putting our chances away.
“But we’ll come good again, hopefully starting tomorrow when I’ll be looking to complete a double after beating them 4-2 earlier in the season.
“It promises to be a cracking game and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Swales, though, unlike his counterpart, has selection problems. Goalkeeper Andy Hunter is definitely out and Jordan Harkess takes over.
Liam Hatch and Ross McNab will need their fitness assessed before kick-off, but Michael Charlton and Nathan Cummings return.
Seaham Red Star are looking to finish in the top six and, if the form book is any guide, they have a good opportunity of claiming all three points at Whitley Bay.
There’s a chance that Kieran Galbraith, who made his first appearance this year last Saturday, will again be involved and Red Star’s chances are further boosted with the inclusion of Daniel Kirkup, David Scorer and Robbie Bird, who all missed the midweek draw with West Allotment.
Whitley Bay have slipped back into the relegation zone and although manager Ian Chandler is confident that his side has turned the corner, admits they’ve got to start putting points on the board.
He said: “There’s a good camaraderie among the lads which is always a plus, but the fact remains we are now third-bottom.
“Everyone is saying we have games in hand, but having points on the board is a lot better.”
Chandler will field a much-stronger side than the one selected for the postponed midweek game at Esh Winning.
Jake Fowler, Aidan Haley, Callum Munroe and Richard Flynn are all added to his squad.
Mark Eccles has been appointed manager of Consett until the end of the season following the resignation of Colin Myers, who has stepped down for ‘non-footballing reasons’.
“Mark is a local lad who played for Sunderland as a youngster. He’s got a lot of experience of the ENL and was helping Colin, so he’s a natural successor,” said secretary David Pyke.
Eccles takes charge for the first time tomorrow when Consett host Dunston UTS and his only absentee will be the banned Jordan Lavery.
Dunston’s form has dipped since they made their exit from the FA Vase, mainly because manager Billy Irwin has had to contend with an extremely long injury list.
Irwin is hopeful that goalkeeper Liam Connell and Dan Smith will be able to play at the Belle View Stadium and heis looking to bring in a couple of new faces before kick-off.
“Consett might be affected by the change of manager, but they have an excellent squad and you always get a good game of football when you go there,” said Dunston secretary Bill Montague. “We are fighting hard to get out of a rut, having slipped to ninth.”
Jarrow Roofing are also on the slide and the hammering they suffered by rival relegation strugglers Durham City on Tuesday saw them drop to fourth-bottom spot – only a point outside the drop zone.
And it won’t be easy when resurgent West Auckland visit Boldon. At the turn of the year, West looked doomed, propping up the table, but their form has taken off and they now look relatively safe.
“Help!” said manager Richie McLoughlin. “For a team which was doing so well, we now need to pick ourselves up and get motivated.”
A boost to Roofing’s chances of returning to winning form is the availability of Corey Barnes, Anth Myers and Jordan Lartey.
Newcastle Benfield will hope that home advantage will count against Newton Aycliffe, but it promises to be a difficult afternoon.
Aycliffe are in the top six and very much in contention for the title.
“They are a very good team. It’s never easy playing against a side managed by Peter Dixon and we’ll really have to be at the top of our game,” admitted joint manager Paul Brayson, who has a fully fit squad standing by.
Ashington have been in free-fall and six consecutive defeats has seen them plunge into the bottom half of the table ahead of the visit from West Allotment. Four home players – Ben Christensen, Matty Grieve, James Taylor and Scott Gunn – are doubtful.