Four of the top six sides in the Second Division meet in two crucial fixtures tomorrow.
Easington Colliery, in sixth position, will hope to make home advantage count against another of the promotion challengers, Darlington RA.
Assistant manager Craig Parkinson reports that Mark Robinson and Rob Hall could make their debuts for the Colliers, while Aidan Goodey, Shane O’Brien and Shaun Smith are pushing for places in the starting line-up.
Second-placed Chester-le-Street go to fifth-top Billingham Synthonia, buoyant after scoring 14 goals in the last two games.
Manager Colin Wake, though, cannot name goalkeeper Joe Clayton or Ben Johnson.
Synners, aiming for an immediate return to the top flight, have Matthew Osmond suspended, while Jamie Barton is struggling with a hamstring injury.
Ryhope CW are third before meeting Hebburn Town at Recreation Park.
Manager Gary Pearson is concerned over the fitness of Damien Stevens, who has scored eight goals since signing from Birtley St Joseph’s.
Definitely out are injured trio Richard Hodgson, Martin Metcalfe and Elliott Woods, plus the suspended Josh Home-Jackson – but Leon Ryan and David Gordon come into contention.
Hebburn boss Scott Oliver admitted: “It’s a tough game. Ryhope are third top and have won their last seven games, but both teams are in the top six of the form table.
“Ryhope have invested heavily and expect to be promoted, but I expect a good, close game.
“Ryhope are a physical side and I expect a scrap tomorrow.”
Leaders South Shields will attempt to stretch a phenomenal winning sequence to 19 games at the expense of Crook Town at Mariners Park.
The Mariners have an average attendance of 670 and, on three occasions, have attracted more than 1,000 spectators. They are likely to top that mark again tomorrow.
Last season, they played in front of gates of a few dozen at their temporary Peterlee headquarters, when they didn’t exactly set the league alight.
Manager Jon King’s only doubt is former Sunderland player Julio Arca who had a dead leg following the midweek FA Carlsberg Vase victory at Consett. Lewis Teasdale is suspended.
Willington will look to ease their troubles by beating bottom club Stokesley SC at Hall Lane.