Northern League: It’s win or bust for Durham City in Washington crunch

Seaham Red Star (red/white) take possession against West Auckland a fortnight ago
Seaham Red Star (red/white) take possession against West Auckland a fortnight ago
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Durham City’s future is hanging in the balance and defeat by Washington at Consett tomorrow could well spell relegation.

Manager Chris Moore is only too aware of how important the game is, saying: “It won’t be all over tomorrow if we lose, but realistically it’s a match we need to win.

“They beat us a couple of weeks ago, so we’ve got a double incentive to get a result.

“Washington are having a hectic end-of-season programme and hopefully we’ll be fresher than them.”

But Moore’s chances of claiming three crucial points don’t look good, with a nine-point gap to safety. He definitely misses four players and the unavailability list could rise to seven.

There’s no chance of Tom Gilbey, Tom Golledge, Ross Stead or Michael King playing, while Moore has doubts surrounding Nathan Lawrence, Ross Wilkinson and Harvey Saunders.

City are third-bottom, ahead of Bedlington Terriers only on goal difference and nine points adrift of safety, with five games to go.

Terriers, with a game fewer to play, must beat Consett at home. Norton are already down.

Sunderland RCA’s form has dipped alarmingly in recent weeks, but they are comfortably placed and have nothing but pride to play for going into their fixture with Whitley Bay at Hillheads.

“Manager Martin Swales has had a load of injuries recently, when we’ve had lots of games to fit in,” said secretary Rob Jones. “We’ve still got six matches to play, so it’s not going to be an easy run-in.”

Swales lines up returning pair Stephen Callen and James Armstrong, while Michael Charlton, who had two midweek run-outs, also comes into the reckoning.

Goalkeeper Jordan Harkess will miss the remainder of the season with a broken jaw and either Michael Woud or Cameron McCulloch will deputise.

Whitley Bay boss Ian Chandler reckons his side, 10 points clear of the bottom three, can’t relax, observing: “We look OK, but I think we need a win to get us over the line and it would be good if it came tomorrow,”

But striker Adam Shanks, who fired a midweek hat-trick, is out alongside the suspended Richard Flynn . Chandler may include Andy Robertson and Ryan Keltie from his reserve squad.

Newcastle Benfield face a tough task against Guisborough Town.

“Every year they are one of the best teams in the league and you’ve got to play really well to beat them. We’ll do our best to get a result and hopefully banish any threat of relegation,” said joint manager Paul Brayson

The Tynesiders go without Richard Slaughter and have fitness concerns for Mark Turnbull (ankle), Steven Baptist (calf) and Carl Patterson (ankle).

FA Vase finalists Morpeth Town, at home to Newton Aycliffe have more players injured than fit according to manager Nick Gray.

“We’ve been playing three times a week and still have 10 fixtures to fulfil. The hectic programme has taken its toll and goodness knows what team I’ll field,” declared Gray.

Definitely on the absentee list are Chris Reid, Chris Jewels, James Novak, David Hiftle, Michael Chilton, Lee McAndrew, Chris Swales, Dan Taggart and goalkeeper Karl Dryden, whose deputy will be Neil Harrison.

Despite comfortably winning the return fixture, Jarrow Roofing will not take West Allotment Celtic for granted.

“I know they’ve hovered around the bottom six, but they’re not a bad side and we’ll have to be up to the task,” claimed manager Richie McLoughlin, who welcomes back Corey Barnes and Alex White. Shaun Vipond is suspended.

It’s been very much a rebuilding exercise for Dunston UTS, who go to Ashington.

“They’ve had a terrible injury list like ourselves. Fortunately, we are getting players back and Luke Gilhespy and Dan Smith could feature tomorrow,” reported secretary Bill Montague.

North Shields travel to Bishop Auckland and assistant manager Andy Bowman expects a close result. The Robins could field their first-choice line-up, with goalkeeper Shaun McCafferty and Dean Holmes available.