Northern League: Ryhope gunning for Esh again to keep up promotion surge

Ryhope CW manager Gary Pearson
Ryhope CW manager Gary Pearson
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Ryhope CW can close in on Second Division leaders South Shields by beating Esh Winning at home tomorrow – weather permitting.

Manager Gary Pearson has Josh Home-Jackson, Matty Weirs and Phil Hall available again as the home side look to make it three wins against lowly Esh this season.

Ryhope cruised to a 6-1 away win on the opening day of the league season, and also beat Esh 4-1 in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup.

The Wearsiders – who lost 4-1 to promotion rivals Team Northumbria in their most recent game, on December 19 – trail the Mariners by nine points, with a game in hand and Chester-le Street are a point adrift of Ryhope, in third place.

Cestrians boss Colin Wake has injury concerns over Matthew Smith and Michael Graver for the visit to bottom-of-the-table Stokesley SC.

Easington Colliery travel to Whickham missing Jordan Thompson and James Parkinson, but Mark Robinson and Dan Martin come into the plans of manager Paul Frame after being ineligible for the previous match.

There is a reduced First Division programme, and the match of the day could be between Ashington and Washington at Woodhorn Lane.

The Colliers, beset with a long injury list all season, will need to check on the fitness of James Harmison, Dylan Williamson and Ollie Hotchkiss.

Scott Blandford is definitely ruled out, while Washington are taking a strong squad of 16 players into Northumberland.

Durham City, who have slipped to eighth-bottom spot, only four places above the relegation zone, go to West Allotment Celtic in a crucial basement clash. West Allotment are fifth-bottom with just five wins in 21 matches.

Jarrow Roofing, who are also in the bottom six, have already postponed their home clash with Norton and Stockton Ancients. Manager Richie McLoughlin was ready to hand debuts to Stephen Turnbull, signed from Consett, and Richie Paxton, who has joined from Washington.

Norton prop up the table with only 11 points out of a possible 63 and going into the second half of the season already face a formidable challenge to avoid making an immediate return to Division Two.

Whitley Bay are also in the relegation dogfight, but they have played only 14 games, which is a worry for manager Paddy Atkinson.

Ahead of the visit to West Auckland, he observed, “We have only played 14 times at the halfway stage, which means we’ll need to cram in 28 fixtures by the end of April. I think this needs looking into.”

Richard Flynn and Josh Day come into his squad.