It’s the battle for Wearside supremacy when local rivals Sunderland RCA and Washington lock horns at Meadow Park tomorrow.
RCA have come a long way in a year and are eighth, while newly-promoted Washington, boasting the only unbeaten record, lie fourth with games in hand on the three sides above them.
“It’s a derby game and I’m hoping we can extend a good run by taking all three points – but it won’t be easy,” observed RCA manager Martin Swales, who is ready to hand debuts to a couple of players.
Glen Lane has been re-signed from Bishop Auckland, while Jack Pounder has moved from neighbours Ryhope CW.
The pair will feature and also in contention are goalkeeper Jordan Harkess, Adam Drysdale and James Hutchinson, but injured quartet Joe Hughes, Liam Hatch, Andrew Brown and Colin Larkin are non-starters.
A blow for Washington is the decision of Anthony Callaghan, the former Sunderland and Whitby Town left-sided player, to join Darlington 1883.
“The lad wanted to play at a higher level but obviously he’ll be a big miss,” said manager Steven Hutchinson.
The Mechanics will field a strong side at Meadow Park and Hutchinson is looking forward to the challenge.
He said: “A lot of my lads played for them and I know RCA will be right up for it, but hopefully, we can get the three points and push for top spot.”
Shildon lead the table and they face a tricky game against South Shields, who have won four and drawn one of their last five games to move into fifth place.
Second-top Morpeth Town go to Marske United without the unfit Shaun Henderson and Chris Jewels, while Guisborough Town, who jumped to third with a midweek victory over Jarrow Roofing, are at Bishop Auckland tonight (7.30pm).
Dunston UTS are going through a rebuilding exercise and manager Billy Irwin will hand debuts to Dale Pearson, signed from West Allotment Celtic and Kai Huitson (Tow Law) in the home fixture with Consett.
The Steelmen have Dan Hawkins, Kieran Megran, Dan Madden and Ryan Bell on the injured list, but Ryan McKinnon has regained fitness.
Newcastle Benfield are just outside the relegation zone on goal difference before they travel to Newton Aycliffe.
Manager Steve Bowie reports that Dean Walker, Mark Convery, Karl Patterson, Steve Baptist, Mark Turnbull and Chris Hardy are unavailable.
Seaham Red Star’s boss Mark Collingwood has placed forward Sonny Andrews on the transfer list.
“It was a mutual decision,” said Collingwood, who is forced to go without David Scorer for the visit of in-form Whitley Bay.
Liam Hudson, Michael Bell, Robbie Williamson and Stephen Gibson resume for the Seahorses who, although being in the bottom six, have as many as eight games in hand on some teams.