Although they are not counting their chickens, there are definite signs of improvement at Sunderland RCA.
Going into tomorrow’s game at Bishop Auckland, the Wearsiders – fresh from Monday’s fine 2-0 win over Seaham Red Star – are mid-table in the First Division.
Secretary Rob Jones said: “When Martin Swales took over as manager in December, we had only two points on the board and the future looked bleak.
“We escaped relegation, in the end quite comfortably, and with two wins and a draw from our first six games have certainly made progress.”
With Swales away, assistant manager Gary Errington, together with coaches Colin Larkin and Ian Smith will take charge of the side at Heritage Park.
Errington’s only injury concerns are for Joe Hughes (ankle) and Liam Hatch (calf).
Shildon, who lost for the first time when they went down 1-0 to Morpeth Town on Monday, have the chance to stretch their lead at the top when they host West Allotment Celtic.
Jarrow Roofing entertain Newton Aycliffe and manager Richie McLoughlin reports that Corey Barnes, Jack Errington, Jamie Marshall and David Gordon return, but a hand injury sidelines Kieran Wrightson.
Consett travel to Guisborough Town with David Madden back from suspension,but injuries prevent Ryan Bell and David Colvin from playing.
North Shields, who have an average home attendance of 443, tackle third-bottom Bedlington Terriers minus injured quartet Gareth Bainbridge, Denver Morris, Stuart Donnison and John Parker. Also out is the suspended Curtis Coppen, but Michael McKeown and David Pounder resume.
Dunston UTS will aim to enhance their early-season challenge for the leadership and they have home advantage against Ashington.
Michael Pearson has returned from holiday for Dunston, but Ashington are not nearly so fortunate, with James Taylor, Kyle Oliver, Gareth Williams and Scott Blandford all ruled out.
In Division Two. Easington Colliery face a difficult task at South Shields, who will leapfrog Chester-le-Street into pole position if they take just one point from the game.
Although Jordan Thompson, Shane O’Brien, James Parkinson, Aiden Goodey and Dale Spence are back, it is likely that Colliers’ manager, Paul Frame, will start with the 1 who defeated Ryhope CW so convincingly in the last game on Monday.
It’s been a happy return to Mariners Park for South Shields following a temporary spell at Peterlee.
Not only have they won five and drawn one of their seven games, but their average home attendance following four games is a healthy 327.
“It’s made a massive difference all round. The club is ambitious and being back at Mariners Park is just what was needed,” said manager Jon King, who goes without Adam Sakr. He dislocated a shoulder against Ryhope CW last Saturday which caused the game to be abandoned after only two minutes.