Northern League: Easington Colliery determined to build on fine victory at Durham City
Easington Colliery, revived by last week's impressive victory at Durham City, tomorrow look to make it successive Second Division wins for the first time since late November.
Jake Fenton is expected to be fit to face visitors Alnwick Town, despite picking up an injury at Durham, but Shane O’Brien and Dylan Nesbitt are still both out with long-term injuries.
Captain Chris Pearson is expected to return to the side, having missed out last week, while Chris Freeman is fit, having pulled up in the warm-up at Durham.
Brandon United welcome fellow strugglers Ryton & Crawcrook Albion, with both sides buoyed by 1-0 away victories last weekend.
Ryton miss Eddie Keenan, who starts a three-match ban.
Ethan Stephenson joined Esh Winning on Wednesday, but several players, including regular captain Leigh Shickle, are expected to return to bolster a squad which was down to the bare 11 for the surprise success at Billingham Town.
Esh Winning, fighting for survival, travel to Blyth Town.
Esh manager Tony Boakes said: “We will have a new signing, Ethan Stephenson, in the squad, but will be missing Andrew Clarkson, and the team will probably be unchanged from last week.
“Now that we’re off the bottom of the table, we want to keep the momentum going - we have some tough games coming up.”
Crook Town, lifted by successive away wins at Whickham and Alnwick to ease their drop fears, entertain leaders Team Northumbria. The Millfield men expect to have a full squad available.
Tow Law Town are at full strength away to Hebburn Town.
Hebburn have Glen Hargrave, Scott Wallace and Will Jarvis-Smith back, but Callum Smith is out with tonsilitis, Adam Rundle and James Davidson are injured and keeper Steve Hubery misses the next two games.
Lee Burrell will play in goal, having impressed as deputy to Hubery this season.
Hebburn are expecting a big crowd as they fight for their future, and boss Scott Oliver said: “We fluffed our lines in front of a big crowd at home last time round, so we are all keen to show people that we are better than our recent results have shown.
“We looked good going forward last Saturday, but shaky at the back. For the first time in weeks, competition for places is hotting up and I am confident in finishing the season well.
“The club is still in a mess. No businesses have come forward and to survive we will need that. We need to continue to bang the drum for support as our problems won’t be solved overnight.”
The battle for promotion hots up.
Third-top Billingham Synthonia host Durham City without Matthew Crust, who is struggling with a groin injury, but Chay Liddle returns to the squad.
Billingham Town, in fourth, have a huge game at second-top Stockton Town.
Billingham secretary Peter Martin said: “Mark Dixon is out suspended and Stephen Oakley is out with a knee injury.
“Our new goalkeeper, Alex Leeds ,made his debut in midweek (a 3-0 win at Northallerton) and is available for the game. It will be a tough game against Stockton, but hopefully we can get a good result.”
Stockton miss Alan Cossavella, Tony Johnson and Kevin Hayes. However, Under-18 prospect Arthur Connelly who made his first-team debut at Darlington RA last Saturday, remains in the squad.