Northern League: Washington face d-day in fight for top-flight survival

Brandon United (blue) battle against Easington Colliery in last weekend's Second Division clash. Picture by Kevin Brady
Brandon United (blue) battle against Easington Colliery in last weekend's Second Division clash. Picture by Kevin Brady
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Washington face a huge day as they bid to stave off the drop in Division One tomorrow.

James Clark’s side are a point ahead of third-bottom Guisborough going into the final matches for both sides.

The Mechanics are away to Ryhope CW, who have not played for a fortnight, while Guisborough have the tougher task, at home to champions South Shields.

Victory will guarantee that Washington stay up.

Guisborough official Bill Perfitt said: “It’s a crucial game and we have two injury worries to both our exciting young wingers.

“Left-winger Louis Goldsack has had an X-ray on a foot injury, sustained against Marske on Easter Monday, but is expected to be fit again.

“Right-winger Steve Roberts, however, is still struggling from an ankle injury, also suffered against Marske and is doubtful. Apart from these two, manager Gary Forster has a full squad available.”

Boss Forster said: “We’ll just go again against the new and worthy league champions and give it our all. I know some people will probably write us off given how strong Shields are, but football does funny things at times so you never know.”

Shields, who clinched the title in midweek, miss suspended pair Julio Arca and Alex Nicholson.

Craig Baxter, who broke his arm last Saturday against Morpeth, is waiting for an operation and is obviously out.

Shields secretary Philip Reay said: “We are hoping to take a lot of supporters to Guisborough, as we will be presented with the trophy.

“Some of our supporters are going in fancy dress and the chairman of Guisborough Town is offering a prize for the best costume!”

West Auckland will go down if they lose at home to Shildon and Washington and Guisborough both win.

Official Cliff Alderson said: “Kerry Hedley and Zak Boagey will have fitness tests, and Dale Elgie returns from work.

“It’s a derby and both teams’ last game of the season. Relegation will be decided between us, Washington and Guisborough, who are all playing. It will be a difficult game to finish off with against Shildon, but we’re certainly up for it.”

Sunderland RCA travel to Consett for their penultimate match.

Manager Martin Swales said: “Consett have been doing very well, and their 4G pitch is not the easiest to play on, but we’ll go there in good spirits and give it a right old go.”

The Meadow Park men miss injured trio Luke Richardson, Craig Hodgson and Liam McBryde, while Ross Preston is on holiday. Craig Hubbard and Ross McNab return.

RCA end their campaign at home to Penrith on Tuesday night.

Relegated Chester-le-Street host Newcastle Benfield and are at full strength apart from Lee Mole, who is out with a rib injury.

Manager Colin Wake said: “It’s the last game of a testing season, but we go into the game looking to stay off the bottom and hopefully continue our recent improved performances.”

Newton Aycliffe are away to long-time leaders North Shields, who have dropped to third place.

Official Jordan Cronin said: “Being without a victory in four games, Jon McDonald may take the Newton Aycliffe game as a chance to let players prove themselves, ahead of Wednesday’s Northumberland Senior Cup final, at St James’s Park versus Blyth Spartans.”

Ashington host Jarrow Roofing without unavailable strikers Ben Harmison and Andrew Bulford.

Wayne Buchanan also misses out due to a broken toe picked up in the recent derby against Morpeth. Defenders Shaun Henderson and James Harmison face fitness tests.

Visiting manager Richie McLoughlin misses Paul Gardiner, Lee Kerr, Dennis Knight, Calvin Smith and Ryan Burton.

Doubts surround Anthony Myers, Thomas Bailey and Bradley Varga, but Lewis Brass returns.

Roofing boss Richie McLoughlin added: “Ashington is always a hard game, however, so was West Auckland in midweek, but if we take the same determination to Ashington as we did to West Auckland, hopefully we’ll get a result.”

Dunston UTS, away to relegated West Allotment Celtic, are struggling with injuries, as Jack Norton, Dale Burrell, Steven Richardson, Chris Youldon and Scott Heslop all miss out.

Marske United, with fifth place tied up, travel to Morpeth Town with a fully fit squad available, with the exception of Reece Kelly (hip injury).

Whitley Bay will hope to confirm sixth place by winning at Penrith.