In an era when clubs regularly change managers, Mark Collingwood is gearing up for his 200th match in charge of Seaham Red Star.
Tomorrow will be his 198th at the helm and, after taking the side up last season, Red Star have comfortably held their own in the top flight, which was Collingwood’s aim before a ball was kicked in August.
“Mark will mark his 200th game against Morpeth Town and we are looking forward to the occasion,” said secretary Dave Copeland.
“He got us promoted and, after a bit of an indifferent start, have never looked in any danger. In fact, we could still finish in the top six, which would be a magnificent achievement.”
Red Star will aim to complete a quick double over tomorrow’s visitors West Auckland, whom they defeated 2-1 late last month.
And the good news for Collingwood is that he goes into the match with a full squad. Ricky Fenwick, meanwhile, has left the club by mutual consent.
Sunderland RCA have slipped into the bottom half of the table and, if the form book is any guide, could well suffer another defeat against championship-chasing Shildon at Dean Street.
Although Jordan Harkess, Ross McNab and Clayton Davis are named in Martin Swales’ side, he definitely goes without Liam Hatch, Cliff Byrne, James Armstrong, Colin Larkin and Kevin Gordon.
“We did well against them in the first game, but they are flying high and will be anxious to take another step towards the title.” said Swales.
“It will be a tough game, but hopefully we’ll put in a good performance.”
The teams currently occupying the bottom three places have a lot to do if they are to escape relegation.
Norton and Stockton Ancients, who have conceded more than 100 goals, are well adrift from safety with five games to play.
They can’t expect much joy at Morpeth Town, who, mathematically ,are still in with a chance of overtaking Shildon.
Durham City are second-bottom, a point behind Bedlington Terriers, before visiting Newton Aycliffe.
City were unlucky to lose by the odd goal against Bishop Auckland in midweek and manager Chris Moore will be hoping for another good performance tomorrow.
Bedlington are best placed of the three bottom clubs to survive the drop, but they, too, have ground to make up.
They host Guisborough, with manager Andy Ferrell claiming some of his players have been naive.
He said: “We have been a goal in front at times, then not seen the match out and I reckon we’ve conceded four points in these fixtures.
“We need to show consistency in the last five games and hopefully pick up sufficient points to keep us in the top flight.
“It won’t be easy against Guisborough, but I’ve got Marcus Brown, Mark Dummett and Marc Walton coming back into our strongest squad, so I’m hopeful.”
Washington, who delay announcing their squad, will come up against a full-strength Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smith’s Park.
“At this stage of the season, when we are playing a lot of games, it’s a question of who’s available but, fortunately, I’ve got no-one out injured,” reported Benfield manager Paul Brayson.
Jarrow Roofing striker Michael Mackay is named along with returning pair Jamie Marshall and Corey Barnes against Ashington, who are again forced to go without Scott Blandford and Dylan Williamson.
Colliers boss Steve Harmison has been handed a 12-match ban by the FA following an incident in the recent game at Guisborough. Secretary Brian Robson has confirmed that an appeal will be made.
North Shields still have a chance of finishing in the top six. They visit Consett and assistant manager Andy Bowman reports that although Dean Holmes is still on the injured list, goalkeeper Chris Bannon is pushing to get back into the squad.
Consett boss Mark Eccles has Gordon Lavery, Luke Sullivan and Nathan Steel coming into his plans, but neither Ryan McKinnon nor Lewis Gibbons can play.
Whitley Bay improved their chances of staying up with a midweek win, but it won’t be easy for them at Bishop Auckland tomorrow. Bishops have steadily climbed the table to sit second.
Whitley manager Ian Chandler enthused: “We battered Washington on Tuesday night and, if we play like that, I’m confident we can get a result.”
Chandler will include Andy Robertson, who has scored five times in the two games since he made his comeback, and Graeme Williams is also pencilled in.
l Jarrow Roofing need only a point from the last six games to be mathematically safe from relegation after winning 4-3 at Newcastle Benfield last night, with Anthony Myers, Adam Rundle, James Fairley and Michael Mackay netting.
A double by Damien Stevens earned Ashington a 2-1 win at Marske United.
Lewis Murphy’s brace cancelled out goals by Ben Richardson (pen) and Peter Glen-Ravenhill as North Shields drew 2-2 with Norton.