Easington Colliery chase a third successive win in a daunting trip to Second Division leaders Team Northumbria tomorrow.
But Paul Frame’s man head north in good spirits, remembering a hard-fought 1-1 draw against the students back in October.
Aidan Goodey is expected to miss out, having pulled up with a hamstring injury last weekend.
Dylan Nesbitt is back from injury and is nearing a start, but Shane O’Brien remains sidelined with a long-term injury.
Striker Jack Pounder is expected to return having missed last week’s 4-3 win over Alnwick because of a holiday.
Team Northumbria manager Colin Stromsoy warned his injury-hit squad: “Easington are on a bit of a run again and they have some very experienced players.
“People always want to beat Team Northumbria, we’re at the top of the league but none of the top teams are dropping points at the moment, so we’re expecting a very hard game.”
At the foot of the table, bottom club Esh Winning have a weekend off.
Darlington RA, two points better off, entertain mid-table Bedlington Terriers, while third-bottom Ryton & Crawcrook Albion, a further point ahead, have a tricky task at home to second-top Stockton Town.
Thornaby have dropped to fourth-bottom spot, four points better off than Ryton, ahead of their visit to promotion-seeking Billingham Town.
Billingham Town secretary Peter Martin said: “Steve Oakley will hopefully be returning, but Mark Dixon is still serving his ban.
“Thornaby are at the bottom, but it’s always a tough one against them and they have a few ex-players of ours, which adds a bit of spice. We need to start getting on a winning streak again to get back in the top three and put pressure on the Synners.”
Willington, in fifth-bottom spot, have a hard task at home to on-song Heaton Stannington, while Crook Town, who rose to seventh-bottom with their midweek victory over Willington, eye a fourth straight win at Brandon United.
Faltering Durham City remain fifth ahead of their home clash with Blyth Town at Consett.
Blyth have Josh Miller out with a hamstring injury, but captain John Iveson is back in the squad for the first time since a knee injury in October.
Andy Bowman, former assistant manager at North Shields, is joining the management team from next season. Joint boss Mick Connor said: “It is an honour to get someone of this calibre to join myself and Ian Irving to assist the team in our vision to drive up the football pyramid.”
Billingham Synthonia, in third place, visit Alnwick Town without Matthew Crust, who is still struggling with a groin injury. John Seaton is doubtful with a knee injury.
Alnwick manager Richard Mitchell said: “We should be at full strength. We signed Sammy Perez last week and he scored two goals at Easington.
“He should be available for his home debut and Ian Lee should be available for his last game before starting a three-match suspension.”
“It will be a very tough game against Billingham Synthonia, but we showed ourselves against Easington that we can mix it with the top six. On our day, we’re a difficult team to beat. I’m confident that we have a good chance of winning.”