Only way is up as Washington boss aims for top six

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WASHINGTON’S form has taken off to such an extent that had they performed at the same level as they’ve done in the last 25 matches, they would be second top in Division Two of the Ebac Northern League.

The Newtonwers claimed only one point from their first 10 games and looked doomed but new manager Stephen Hutchinson has revitalised the team.

Now, Hutchinson is looking for at least a top six finish.

Ahead of tonight’s game against Whickham, at The Glebe, he said: “We’ve done exceptionally well considering the start which the team made. I thought Saturday’s win over Jarrow Roofing, who I’m fairly sure will clinch promotion, was another example of how well we can compete against the best”.

Washington are in ninth position, just one place and two points ahead of Whickham who also enjoy a superior goals difference.

It could be a case of one in, one out for Hutchinson who welcomes the return of Nathan Johnson, but Aaron Croft is banned.

Chester-le-Street have also improved considerably as the season has progressed and they are eighth going into their fixture with Tow Law Town at the Iron Works Road ground.

Manager Colin Wake reports that Andrew Grant Soulsby and Robbie Draper resume, but David Surrey is involved with his UEFA coaching course.

North Shields, who clinched promotion when they defeated Chester-le-Street at the weekend, now aim to go up as Champions.

The outcome of their fixture at Heaton Stannington will have a bearing on the two teams which join them in Division One next season.

Heaton are fifth and are competing with West Allotment Celtic, Seaham Red Star and Jarrow Roofing.

At the other end of the table Brandon United are third bottom, but with only one side to be relegated, they look relatively safe before meeting South Shields at Peterlee.

The Mariners have dropped into the bottom six, but have a commanding 19 points lead over basement side Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.

One game is scheduled in Division One and the result will be anxiously awaited by those clubs battling against relegation.

Although, Marske United are eighth from bottom, they are not out of the woods, but a win over Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park could just about make them safe.

Bishops are comfortably placed in mid-table and their final line-up will depend on the outcome of fitness tests for Stuart Thompson and Ian Maddison.