CHESTER-LE-STREET and long serving manager Stuart Sherwood have agreed to part company at the end of the season.
The amicable decision means that the Cestrians are looking for a new boss for the first time since early in the 2001/2 season when Sherwood, who had assisted Paul Bryson for four years, took overall control.
Chairman Joe Burlison said: “Stuart has been an excellent ambassador for the club since joining us more than a decade ago.
“He has brought loyalty, commitment, great passion and enthusiasm to the role and has been a larger than life character in many ways – both in and out of the dugout”.
Sherwood agreed it was time for both parties to move on. “I’ve loved every minute of my time at Chester Moor Park working with some fantastic people.
“This season has not gone as well as expected but we are still in the Earnest Armstrong Memorial Cup and it would be fitting to end my time by winning the trophy” said Sherwood.
Tomorrow, the Cestrians start firm favourites at home to Morpeth Town, the only side in the two divisions yet to win.
Sherwood will need to check on the fitness of Kyle Bird and David Halliday while Burlison confirmed that Neil Moan has left the club.
Morpeth, with just two points from 24 games anticipate fielding a stronger side with Dom Clauzal, Steve Monoghan, Callum Benson and Michael Stenmitz are in contention for starts.
Two sides in the bottom six meet at the Nissan Sports Complex. Washington, with David Smith appointed manager in place of David Lee, have home advantage over Seaham Red Star who are precariously placed third from the basement following a long losing sequence.
Horden CW are fourth from bottom and face a particularly tough test when in-form Team Northumbria visit Welfare Park.
“We haven’t had a match for two weeks and hopefully batteries have been recharged” said manager Brian Honour who will hand debuts to Danny Chapman and Richard Thompson, signed from Northallerton Town and Scott Jackson who is playing college football.
Also available are Adam Croft, Gary Redman and Stephen Oakley but Lee Armes, Ashley Corker and Chris Rookes are sidelined.
Team Northumbria are gunning for promotion and so too are North Shields who have climbed into third place after winning 15 and drawing four of their last 19 games.
The Robins visit second bottom Brandon United with Phil Cartwright the likely replacement for the unavailable Mark Rasmussen.
Chris Laws, who has figured only twice since his move from Dunston UTS and defender Lee Picton come into the plans of manager Anthony Woodhouse.
In Division One Sunderland RCA visit West Allotment Celtic aiming to continue their rise up the table.
After being bottom in the early weeks the Wearsiders are now ninth which is the highest position they have achieved since they ended the 1984/5 season 10th from top.
“It’s a real achievement since it is never easy for a team coming up from the Second Division but as a club we feel we are making real progress”, claimed chairman Owen Haley.
Manager Neil Hixon, who has wheeled and dealed in the transfer market all season, welcomes the return on Richie Logan but Scott Richards will need a fitness check on his hamstring.
“I’m looking for a fourth consecutive win and extend our challenge in the top half of the table” said Hixon who also has his eyes set on the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup. RCA have home advantage over Stokesley in the quarter finals.
While life is rosy for the Wearsiders the same cannot be said for tomorrow’s opponents West Allotment Celtic who, despite claiming three crucial points in midweek, are still locked into the relegation dog fight.
“We drew with RCA earlier in the season but they are now a vastly improved side and anything we take from the game will be a bonus” declared manager Tom Wade who is pleased to have James Novak available for the first time in five weeks.
At the top of the table Spennymoor Town aim to close in on Shildon’s seven points lead when they host Billingham Town.
Assistant manager Perry Briggs reports that Craig Ruddy is out with a hamstring injury but Craig Hubbard could play a part making his comeback from a hernia operation.
H Two sides from the League will battle it out for a place in the semi finals of the FA Carlsberg Vase.
Dunston UTS have home advantage over the holders Whitley Bay.
Before kick off, a minute’s silence will be held in memory of Dunston’s physio Mattie Annan, who collapsed and died while out running last Saturday.