Now that Stockton Town have been crowned champions, a three-horse race is on for the runners-up position.
Only five points separate Redcar Athletic and Sunderland West End, with Cleator Moor Celtic tucked in between the pair.
The Wearsiders host Whitehaven at Ford Quarry tomorrow (2.30pm) and manager Anth Nelson is looking for all three points to boost his side’s chances of finishing second.
“I always thought Stockton would win the title, but we were in with a shout until just a few weeks ago. Now, we must go all out and hopefully finish runners-up,” declared Nelson.
Although Tom Price and Mark Catcheside are back in action, West End cannot call upon Neal Bussey, Brad Foster, Keiron Martin or Alan Bates.
Redcar Athletic’s chances of overtaking Stockton ended on Wednesday to complete a disappointing three days for the Seasiders.
On Monday, they were beaten in the League Cup Final, then, 24 hours later, they suffered another huge blow when they were removed from the Shipowners’ Cup final.
“We voluntarily contacted the league and informed them that we had mistakenly played an ineligible player in the semi-final win over Leam Rangers,” said official Andrew McElvaney.
“We’ve suffered three huge blows but have got to get on with it, starting in tonight’s home game with Hartlepool.”
Stockton Town have also brought tomorrow’s fixture forward to tonight and will play Horden CW at their new Bishopton Road ground which meets the criteria for their imminent promotion to the Ebac Northern League.
The Teessiders, with 30 wins from 33 matches, will aim to take a step towards the 100-point mark and their chances are enhanced by the inclusion of Tony Johnson and James Ward into a full-strength squad.
Cleator Moor are also competing for the runners-up spot, but Spennymoor Town Reserves, who ended Redcar’s championship dreams in Wednesday’s draw, will hope to halt their charge when the teams meet in Cumbria.
Moors’ club captain, Kai Willis, and Neil Charlton are injured and also unavailable is Connor Dunlavey, while Chris Baxter is rated doubtful.
Leam Rangers have replaced Redcar in the Shipowners’ Cup final and will travel to Boldon CA on Friday May 20.
Tomorrow, Boldon host Annfield Plain and manager Paul Mossa will be hoping for another victory against a side which has leaked 13 goals in its last two games.
Leam Rangers entertain Prudhoe Town and there’s a good chance that Connor Halpin will be able to play after being ruled out of the last three games with a knee injury.
Chris Lowther and Joe Adams could also be involved, while Nathan Bailey plays his last game before starting a one-match ban. Prudhoe secretary Chris Lowther reports that his side will be at full-strength.
Harton and Westoe visit Richmond Town, while Wolviston host Jarrow. Club captain and defender Shaun Gregory is struggling to shake off a knee injury, but utility player David Johnson comes into contention.
Goalkeeper Tom Laverick is likely to retain his place after making a promising debut last weekend.