STOCKTON Town will almost certainly win the Wearside League Championship for a third consecutive season and realistically, the race is on for the runners-up position.
Currently, Horden CW are second and Easington Colliery third before the pair clash in tomorrow’s East Durham derby.
“We are flying at the minute and seem to raise our game for the big ones and tomorrow is no different.
“We are going all out to end second and hopefully gain promotion to the Ebac Northern League” said Easington assistant manager Craig Parkinson.
Shane O’Brien is banned and Ian Redman working, but Shaun Smith returns.
Parkinson revealed that three players had turned down approaches from clubs at a higher level and that this week, 17-year-old Kevin Humble trained at Sunderland’s Academy.
Although Horden have a six-point lead over their rivals, they have fulfilled six more fixtures and boss Keith Brown describes tomorrow’s clash as one his team must win.
He said: “If we are to stay in the shake-up then we’ve got to take all three points. I’m looking forward to challenging a good Easington side.”
Jonny Payne, John Pyle, Luke Wilson, Michael Cain and John Bowes come into contention, but Brown has injury concerns for Michael Pattison, Martin Fowler, Dan Turner and Paul Moss.
Sunderland West End boss Anth Nelson is looking for a top-five finish. He said: “We are seventh before hosting fourth-top Cleator Moor Celtic and a win will keep us on track.”
With Neil Bussey suspended, his uncle Michael takes over in goal. Tom Price and Barry Turton are also named, while David Keighley and Michael McCable are in the squad.
Although Silksworth CW have reached the final of the Durham Trophy in which they will play Sporting Club Whickham from the Northern Alliance, they haven’t won a league game since mid-October.
They go to Annfield Plain and assistant manager Mark Samutt and captain Michael McVay will be in charge because boss Scott Cameron is unavailable.
Vice captain Neil Jones returns and Samutt is anxious for a win, saying, “We need to start performing and put points on the board.”
Annfield Plain line up Jon Bone, Michael Profit and Michael Bell, but await news on the availability of Warren Brown, Adam Walton, Karl Gent and Aaron Oliver.
Ashbrooke Belford House meet Redcar Athletic at Silksworth. David Passmore deputises for Brett Wilson, but Mark Green and Lewis Hutchinson are missing.
Redcar are uncertain whether Joe Blackburn, who has returned following a three-month lay-off, will be able to play.
Boldon CA are likely to include newcomer Danny Burns at Prudhoe Town, who miss Ryan Chambers.
After being involved with the first-team squad last Saturday, Reece Kenney is named in the Spennymoor Town Reserves squad, but neither Robert Thompson nor Josh Penny can play in the home game with bottom of the table Wolviston.
The visitors again name 6ft 9in goalkeeper David Bannen, who impressed making his debut last week. Striker Chris Fairless has returned, but Ian Danby and Luke Bennington are out.
Stockton Town are expected to take another step towards the Championship by defeating Jarrow at Perth Green.
The Teessiders have conceded only two points all season and 22 games have yielded 98 goals. Amazingly, they have leaked just nine times.
Captain Stephen Roberts cannot play, but otherwise manager Michael Dunwell has a full pool of players on standby.
Jarrow have signed Gary Archibold and are hopeful of Daryl Turnbull, Peter Cane, Brian Johnson and Steven Graham being available.
Michael McCaffery misses Leam Rangers’ home fixture against Richmond Town, who welcome the return of goalkeeper Karl Latcham, Chris Duckett, Gary Hutchinson and Reuben Bainbridge.