RYHOPE CW’s future may be uncertain but they will continue to fight all the way for the Ebac Northern League Second Division championship.
Ahead of tonight’s visit to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, the Wearsiders are only eight points behind leaders Crook Town with three games in hand and a significantly better goal difference.
Whether Martin Swales’ side can overtake the Millfield men in the run-in remains to be seen but they are well placed to clinch one of the three promotion places.
Swales misses James Dunn, Chris Rookes and Ross Stead but Greg Swansbury, Craig Marron and Ben Riding are added to his squad at Kingsley Park.
Seaham Red Star are sixth and face a difficult test at West Allotment Celtic, who have gradually moved up the table in recent weeks.
Manager Mark Collingwood expects a tough challenge. He said: “They have come really good and are now ninth from top. They’ll be buoyant following Monday night’s win over North Shields, who are contesting the three promotion places.”
Collingwood misses Chris Smith and Richard Stubbs through work commitments and Chris Goss and Gary Dadd will need to have their fitness checked before kick-off.
Jarrow Roofing are third, seven points behind Ryhope CW, before lining up with Darlington RA for a crucial fixture at Brinkburn Road.
Manager Richie McLoughlin, though, remains relaxed saying: “What will be will be. I’ve been in the game far too long to get fazed.
“All I’ll say is that at this stage of the season, we are in a good position to go up but we still have eight games to play and I know from experience anything can happen.”
Roofing go without Michael Chapman, who is working while Anthony Myers is given only a 50-50 chance of passing a fitness test. Robert Gray though comes into the plans of McLoughlin.
Following successive defeats, North Shields desperately need to defeat Tow Law Town at the Daren Persson Stadium to resurrect their promotion challenge.
At the bottom, Alnwick Town are back in the relegation zone just five points ahead of Horden CW.
Alnwick travel to Morpeth Town who haven’t given up hope of making a late impact in the battle for promotion. They are seventh but have played fewer games than all the sides above them.
In Division One, relegation-threatened South Shields aim to make it five wins on the bounce when they meet Guisborough Town at Filtrona Park. Victory would take the Mariners to within two points of third-from-bottom Newton Aycliffe.
Bishop Auckland, aiming for a top-six finish, have home advantage over Team Northumbria who cannot name Mark Fenwick while Dean Critchlow is a doubt.