Northern League: Cestrians in fine fettle for visit of wounded Tow Law
Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake expects a really tough game at home to promotion-chasing Tow Law Town in Division Two tomorrow.
The third-top Lawyers will be looking to make amends for their 3-0 Boxing Day defeat at Willington and Wake said: “Having only lost once in our last six games, including four wins, we are in the middle of a decent set of performances and more importantly, results which has seen us move away from the bottom.
“We go into the game with confidence and we should give a good account of ourselves.”
The Cestrians will be missing Danny Hepplewhite, Andrew Clarkson, Arron Thompson and Connor Lyon, but Danny Naylor returns.
Easington Colliery host West Allotment Celtic and, after a brief return on Boxing Day, Chris Freeman is expected to be fit to play.
Jake Metcalf picked up a knock, which forced him to miss the game on Boxing Day, but he could return alongside Michael Cooke. Jay Redman is likely to miss out, but new signing Lewis Green, snapped up from Thornaby, could make his debut.
Sixth-placed Durham City, five points off the promotion places, are away to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.
Manager Ollie Hotchkiss said: “We are doing quite well and have a little run going with five wins from our last six games.
“The lads have done well and are a very honest bunch of players. If we play to the same level, and take more of our chances, we should win the game.”
City have a full squad to choose from, including Jeremy Allen and Ross Simpson.
Ryton miss Lee Crammond, Martyn Hepple, Harry Mitchell and Liam Barker through suspension, while Anthony Brown is still injured and Michael Hedley, Mark McMeekin and Jack Stoddart are unavailable.
However, Philip Hodges and Ben Miley return, and new signing Graeme Barber is available for selection.
Willington should be unchanged for the visit of Thornaby, who are one place higher in the table.
Crook Town journey to Bedlington Terriers without centre-back Ryan Coles.
Midfielder Calum Johnston is a doubt with a dead leg and Adam Comby has a hamstring injury and is a major doubt, but they hope to make a new signing in time to feature.
Brandon United entertain leaders Northallerton, with Andrew Brown expected to make his debut after joining from Seaham Red Star. Craig Ruddy and Adam Storey both return to the squad.
Northallerton have a full squad available, apart from the suspended Elliott McGlade and long-term injury victims Mark Hemingway, Josh Knox and Sam Grainger.
Karl Hewitt, Shaun Hudson, Josh Keogh and Richard Walker have all recovered from injury, while Mattie Crossen requires a late fitness test.
Manager Darren Trotter said: “It’s imperative we keep on winning to maintain our position at the top of the league.
“I keep saying it, but there are no easy games in this league and we have to play to our potential in each and every game to earn the three points.
“I will take a 1-0 now, if that means another victory!”
Hebburn Town, down to seventh, need to pick up the pace again as they visit lowly Darlington RA.
Callum Smith, Scott Wallace and Craig Malley return foir Hebburn, but Dave Coulson and Anth Myers are out injured. Doubts surround Peter Jones and Mechack Kanda doubtful after coming off at half-time in the 1-0 loss to Easington on Boxing Day.
Boss Scott Oliver said: “Our form and performances continue to disapoint me and Chris Thompson. We have tried every trick in the book to turn our results around, but it is just not happening.
“Now is a time for character on and off the pitch. I have been a Northern League manager for a long time now and have never had a set of results like these.
“I take responsibility for this run of results, but this squad lost three games out of their first 25 games so the players are good enough.”
Billingham Town will have a fully fit squad for the visit of Jarrow, apart from suspended striker Ashley Lavan.
Jarrow only miss long-term injury absentees Sam Attewell, Josh Allan, Darren Morton, Andy Wilkinson, Jak Quantrill and Dean Martin.
Max Kirkham is back from a three-game ban.
Jarrow boss Dave Bell said: “We played Billingham earlier in the season at home and lost 1-0 at home.
“We are aware of the strengths that Billingham have, but we will be looking to get beyond 30 points by the turn of the year and look to close the gap between ourselves and Billingham that currently sits at four points.
“We again know how difficult a game this will be and we know what we need to do to get anything out of the game.”
Blyth, in fifth, entertain second-placed Heaton Stannington in arguably the match of the day.