DURHAM City end just before the halfway mark in the First Division, but manager Ian Chandler is promising more success next season.
“Since I came in, it’s been a case of work in progress. We need to become harder to beat and to achieve this add more steel into the side,” said Chandler ahead of tomorrow’s crucial final game at title hopefuls Shildon.
“On our day we’ve proved we can beat anyone – but equally we have lost to some of the poorer teams.
“They (Shildon) need to win if they are to overtake Marske United for the championship. Anything less than three points will end their hopes so there is an awful lot at stake. It should be interesting and we are going there to win.”
His only absentee is Chris Wallace with a broken foot while Stephen Stewart could make the starting XI.
Sunderland RCA, having recently escaped relegation, host FA Carlsberg Vase finalists North Shields and a big crowd is expected at Meadow Park.
“When I took over in October they only had one point and thought they were gone,” admitted boss Martin Swales. “But, gradually, we turned things around and have a chance to finish seventh from bottom.
“We are already seven points in front of Billingham Synthonia, who occupy the last relegation place.”
The Wearsiders are already making plans for next season and Swales is confident in making inroads on the transfer front. Tomorrow, he adds Josh Carmichael, Clayton Davis, Kevin Megran and Stephen Bogie to the squad, but neither Colin Larkin nor Tony Coe can play.
Newcastle Benfield boss Steve Bowie is another who has turned around his team’s fortunes. He said: “The side was fourth bottom when I came in from Consett last November.
“We are assured of a top-half-of-the- table finish regardless of the result at Penrith, so I’ve got to be pleased.”
A quartet of players are unavailable at Penrith, with Mark Turnbull, Mark Convery and Gilberto Chapim away, while Chris Youldon is playing cricket.
Michael Riley comes back into the squad and Bowie, who missed four months of the season following an operation on his toe, could give himself a run-out from the bench