Northern League: Durham City boss Chris Moore says his side will give everything in crunch clash at Whitley Bay
Durham City must take at least a point from their penultimate First Division game against Whitley Bay at Hillheads to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
Manager Chris Moore’s men gave themselves a lifeline by defeating Guisborough on Tuesday night and now need four points to guarantee survival.
“It’s another cup final, but every game recently has been. The lads produced a tremendous performance in midweek and we’ll give everything we’ve got to get a result tomorrow,” said Moore.
Unfortunately, Moore misses at least five players. Moussa Bakhti has returned to France, while Tom Golledge, Richard Archer, Ross Stead and Michael King are all definitely out. His unavailability list will rise to seven if Harvey Saunders (groin) and Nathan Lawrence (hip) fail fitness tests.
Whitley Bay have also endured a difficult campaign and, although their top-flight status was secured a couple of weeks ago, they could still end in the bottom six.
“We’ll be going all out to win and give our loyal fans a good send-off. Our chances are boosted with the return of Jake Fowler, Ash Davis and Alex Kempster.
“Unfortunately, young Bulgarian Nick Ivanoff was injured on Tuesday and is doubtful, so I may bring up Graeme Williams from the reserves,” observed manager Ian Chandler.
The curtain comes down on what has been a topsy-turvy season for Sunderland RCA when they visit Penrith.
Martin Swales’ side enjoyed a good run in the FA Vase and were riding high in the table, but, since the turn of the year, their form has dipped and they will end in the bottom half.
“We were doing quite well but then hit a bad patch and we never really fully recovered, but ending just below halfway is not a bad result,” claimed Swales.
The Wearsiders are forced into making changes for the trip to Cumbria.
Michael Woud, who has been on loan from Sunderland AFC, jetted off to Australia on Wednesday to play in an international for New Zealand.
Also missing is Jonny Wightman, now he has turned his attentions to cricket, but Colin Larkin, Joe Hughes and Steve Callan are back.
“I’m a good friend with their manager, Mattie Heaney, from our Wearside League days. He tells me Penrith have never beaten us so hopefully we’ll extend the record tomorrow,” quipped Swales.
North Shields will give a guard of honour to champions Shildon when they meet at the Daren Persson Stadium.
Assistant boss Andy Bowman said: “As a mark of respect, our lads will line up when Shildon come out. They’ve had a fantastic season and it’s the least we can do.”
The Robins will check on the fitness of Dan Wilson, Peter Glen-Ravenhill and Michael McKeown before naming their squad.
Shildon are still on a high, according to president John Atkinson, who admits he celebrated well into the night last Monday.
“It was our first championship win in 79 years and now we are going for the double which we last achieved in the 1934/5 season,” said Atkinson.
“We play Marske United at Billingham Synthonia’s ground next Wednesday and it would be the icing on the cake if we beat them.”
Consett boss Mark Eccles is hoping to steer his side into at least a top-six finish.
“Although I’ve got six players missing at Marske United, I’m confident we can still take something from the game,” he said.
“We are trying to end as high as possible and maybe they’ll be distracted by the Cup Final they have coming up next Wednesday.”
Injuries sideline Brian McKinnon and Dan Madden, work commitments prevent Peter Jeffries from travelling and Josh Grey, Michael Sweet and Dan Hawkins are also unavailable.
Two sides aiming to end in the top six, Newton Aycliffe and Bishop Auckland, clash. It’s Bishops’ last game while Aycliffe will still have two games to play after tomorrow.
After reaching the FA Vase Final, Morpeth Town suffered a loss of form which ended their hopes of the title, but manager Nick Gray claims they are now getting back to where they were at the turn of the year.
“We’ve had a really gruelling six or seven weeks because of a backlog of fixtures,” said Gray. “Ashington at Craik Park is a local derby and it will be a really tough game, but we have a good rapport with them and it should be an entertaining match for the fans.”
James Novak and Michael Chilton are out injured list but should recover in time for the May 22 Wembley date against Hereford, but, disappointingly, neither David Hiftle nor Matteus Hambiec will have recovered in time for the biggest day in Morpeth’s history.
Ashington – thumped 8-1 by Shildon on Wednesday – go into their last game minus Scott Blandford, Dylan Williamson and Paul Dunn.