Assistant boss Stu Gooden hopes to carry on last week’s encouraging performance when Ryhope CW travel to relegation-threatened Guisborough Town in Division One tomorrow.
Fresh from a 1-1 draw with Morpeth Town, Gooden said: “I was very pleased with last week’s performance against Morpeth, who are one of the top sides.
“It was an excellent performance and we thoroughly deserved a draw.
“Our away form has been poor of late, so that needs a big improvement at Guisborough.
“We’ll be going there full of confidence after our last two home games. Guisborough will be a tough task – they’re fighting for their lives at the bottom of the league, but hopefully we’ll get something from the game.”
Nathan O’Neill, Simon Ord and Matthew Weirs are still out injured and James Ellis is away on holiday, but Davey Gordon returns. Elliot Woods will need a late fitness test.
Mid-table Sunderland RCA visit second-bottom West Allotment Celtic.
Manager Martin Swales said: “West Allotment Celtic are fighting for lives at the bottom and they were only beat 1-0 by the reigning champions last Saturday, so we’re expecting a tough game.
“Colin Larkin and Liam McBryde are out injured and Luke Richardson is away on holiday.
“Goalkeeper josh Carmichael is not available due to family commitments, so Neal Bussey will start in goal. However, James Armstrong, Stevie Callen and Captain Greg Swansbury return.
“We’re also hoping to make a couple of new signings before the weekend.”
Washington entertain bottom club Chester-le-Street in a crucial relegation encounter at Nissan.
Although the home side carry a 10-point advantage above the bottom three, and lead Chester by 12, they are eager to increase the margin to safety, as games start to run out.
The Cestrians miss Alex White, Michael Hepplewhite, Dan McGuire and David Latham. However, Jack Honour, Mark Pattison, and Lee Mole return to the squad.
Seaham Red Star, in 10th after just one win in the last six games, travel to seventh-placed Bishop Auckland.
South Shields will make club history if they win at home to third-top Shildon, as it will set a new record of 21 straight wins for the Mariners.
Having gone through the 100 goals barrier last weekend after just 30 games in the league, Shields – eight points behind leaders North Shields – are favourites to take all three points.
Secretary Philip Reay said: “We had a very good result last Saturday in the FA Vase. We went 2-0 up very early on, which settled the nerves of the players and spectators.”
“Against Shildon, the management team will be without Dillon Morse who is suspended.
“We will have to shuffle the pack to cover his position, but Stephen Ramsey and Barry Smith are still a week or two away from getting back into the squad.
“The importance of this game has been raised with us being second and Shildon being third in the league. It should be a tough game, but hopefully we’ll get the three points.”
Shildon official John Atkinson said: “We have a doubt over Anthony Bell due to injury. Our two new signings, Lewis King and Adam Burnicle, will be in the squad, which has depleted because of the flu bug that’s going around our camp.
“It’s going to be a difficult game and it’s a must-win game for us. South Shields want to win the league as they’re seeking promotion, so they will give nothing away. It will be a very tight game.”
West Auckland, in need of points to pull away from the relegation zone, face a tough trip to fourth-top Morpeth Town.
Consett, in sixth place, have Michael Sweet and Jordan Nellis back from injury at Jarrow Roofing, while Matthew Slocombe is available after a two-match suspension.
Chairman Frank Bell said: “Jarrow Roofing are a side that has much improved, especially in the second half of the season. They’ve made some good signings and have good quality players.
“It’s forecast for heavy rain over the next couple of days, so we anticipate a heavy and difficult pitch. It will be tough, and with a heavy pitch, we will need to be at the top of our game to pick up a good result.”