Chester-le-Street boss Colin Wake has delayed announcing his side to take on lowly Crook Town at the Millfield ground in Division Two tomorrow.
The Cestrians climbed above Ryhope CW into third place, albeit having played three games more, by winning in midweek.
Wake said: “We had a bruising second half at Stokesley SC on Wednesday night, but we came away with another win and are now back up to third.
“I’ll need to check on Ben Johnson, Craig Marron and Chris Stephenson and one player definitely out is Lee Mole, who is away.”
Michael Graver, Mark Peck, Jack Honour and Micky Allan come into his plans.
Wake, meanwhile, is delighted that leading scorer Scott Heslop has turned down an offer from a First Division club.
“At the start of the season, Scott said he would stay with us for the campaign and he has been true to his word, which is nice to see,” added Wake.
The top five are battling for three promotion places.
There’s a chance that David Gordon will return to the Ryhope CW team away to Heaton Stannington. Illness has kept him out of the last two matches.
Manager Gary Pearson, though, goes into the game minus Leon Ryan, Ross Morrow and influential midfielder Nathan O’Neill.
South Shields are favourites not only to go up but also to clinch the championship.
They should be too strong for lowly Birtley Town at Mariners Park, where another big crowd is expected. A notable absentee will be former Sunderland player Julio Arca, who is suspended.
Second-top Billingham Synthonia failed to reach the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup Final when they went down to Ryhope CW in midweek, but secretary Graham Craggs reckons they still have eight finals to play.
“It’s so tight at the top that every point is vital and we need a good result at Hebburn Town. where we will be stronger with the return of Josh Rowbotham and Mattie Osmond,” said Craggs.
Team Northumbria, who are also in the promotion mix, visit Billingham Town for what could be a tricky match. The Teessiders are one of the most improved sides in the division.
Easington Colliery’s performances recently have been Jekyll and Hyde, according to assistant manager Craig Parkinson.
“We seem to turn up against the bigger boys but we roll over when we play lower teams,” claimed Parkinson ahead of tomorrow’s home fixture with Thornaby.
Aiden Goodey (suspended), Ted Freeman and Mark Robinson (both injured) miss out, but there’s a chance that captain Chris Pearson and Jack Devlin will be able to turn out.
Easington were held to a 0-0 home draw by Northallerton Town in a close-fought battlelast night.
The Colliers remain seventh, two points behind Northallerton in sixth