Northern League: Josh back to bolster Ryhope CW

Ryhope CW defender Phil Hall
Ryhope CW defender Phil Hall
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Ryhope CW have the opportunity to make their game in hand on promotion rivals Chester-le-Street count, when they host Tow Law Town tomorrow (3pm).

The Wearsiders, who trail Division Two leaders South Shields by nine points, are just one in front of the Cestrians.

Manager Gary Pearson welcomes the return of Josh Home-Jackson but will need to check on the fitness of long-serving defender Phil Hall and forward Damien Stevens before finalising his line-up.

South Shields are odds-on favourites to take another step towards promotion by defeating bottom side Stokesley SC, who are in danger of becoming the first team to concede 100 goals.

They will reach that figure if the Mariners score six times, which is not inconceivable since they are the top marksmen with 68 goals so far.

Third-placed Chester-le-Street are without a fixture and fourth-placed Northallerton Town, who have won the last seven games, will aim to close a five-point deficit when they entertain Crook Town.

Crook, without a league game since November 14, tried to shake off their rustiness in midweek with a 2-0 win over Wearside League high-fliers Sunderland West End, in a friendly played on the 3G pitch at Willington’s Parkside School.

Team Northumbria are fifth, going into their home fixture with second-bottom Esh Winning, while Billingham Synthonia, at home to Heaton Stannington are also in the promotion mix.

They name an almost full-strength side – the only absentee being David Hillerby with a knee injury.

Although Easington Colliery have dropped back to eighth, they cannot be discounted from the promotion race. They travel to Hebburn Town and include 17-year old striker Jack Devlin, who has returned to the club from Queen of the South.

Joe Kerridge is also available, while Michael Watson and Liam Hodgson are fitness concerns for manager Paul Frame.

Hebburn boss Scott Oliver warned his side: “Easington are a good, consistent team and will be a good test. I expect a close game.”

Centre-half Chris Smith has a one-match ban so misses out, as does goalkeeper Phil Holgate. However, the dependable Steve Hubery will don the gloves.