Ryhope CW go into tomorrow’s home Second Division game with Alnwick Town sitting third in the table.
They are just a couple of points adrift of second-placed Billingham Synthonia, with three games in hand.
Manager Gary Pearson lines up Tom Bott and Chris Trewick against their lowly visitors, but he will need to assess the fitness of Stephen Francis and Matty Weirs before finalising his line-up.
Chester-le-Street are also in the promotion mix, but could find it tricky at Tow Law Town, who are not an easy side to beat and have improved greatly on last season’s disappointing campaign.
Table-toppers South Shields are expecting a 1,000-plus gate for their Second Division game against relegation-threatened Esh Winning.
“The club has experienced some dark times so it’s great having so many fans behind us as we challenge for the championship,” enthused manager Jon King.
Ben Riding, Lewis Galpin, Lewis Teasdale, Wayne Phillips and goalkeeper Scott Pocklington are all sidelined for the Mariners. Gareth Young takes over in goal, but, despite being without several key players, King is optimistic of chalking up another win.
“We have a very strong squad and I’ll be surprised if we don’t take another step towards the title,” he said.
Billingham Synthonia are six points behind the Mariners but they have played two more games.
At Willington tomorrow, Andrew Burton, Josh Rowbotham and Jason Blackburn come in for the Teessiders, but an ankle injury rules out Matthew Dixon.
Easington Colliery host Ryton and Crawcrook Albion and loan signing Reece Kenney from Spennymoor Town goes straight into the squad.
Manager Paul Frame’s injury list continues to grow, however, and he misses Shaun Smith, Mark Robinson, Chris Freeman, Stephen Bogie, Chris Pearson and Jordan Thompson.
Also out is Jack Devlin who continues to be on trial with Chesterfield.