Struggling City look for vital win against Shields

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MANAGER Adam Furness is looking for his Durham City side to bounce back in tonight’s Ebac Northern League First Division game against South Shields at New Ferens Park.

“Following Saturday’s defeat at Guisborough, we are fourth from bottom and only outside the relegation zone because we have a better goal difference than Norton and Stockton Ancients,” he said.

“The lower part of the table is very tight so it’s important we get a win under our belts, especially as the Mariners are at the basement.”

Furness’s only absentee is the injured Craig Hindmarsh.

Although they prop up the table, South Shields could prove difficult opponents after winning their last two games during which they scored nine goals.

Second-top Spennymoor Town will close the gap on Darlington 1883 to just four points and they’ll still have two games in hand, if they defeat out-of-sorts Norton and Stockton Ancients at the Brewery Field.

Jason Ainsley’s side start firm favourites. They are unbeaten whereas Norton, third from bottom, have taken only three points from their last six fixtures during which they scored just three goals and conceded no fewer than 25 times.

West Auckland Town, smarting from a five-goal humiliation at the hands of Dunston UTS on Saturday in the FA Carlsberg Vase, now need to concentrate on challenging for the championship but could find it tricky against Hebburn Town, who have confounded the critics by continuing to hold their own in the top flight.

Seventh-top Bishop Auckland will not be relishing the long trip to Celtic Nation, which is never an easy place to visit in mid-week, when teams frequently find it difficult to field their strongest line-up because players cannot get away from work in time.

In Division Two, a close contest is anticipated between Seaham Red Star and Washington.

Mark Collingwood’s side could go fourth if they win but the Newtowners are also in good form, now in the top half of the table following a spell of indifferent results.

“After losing to Durham City and North Shields, we returned to winning ways at the week-end and are still very much in the mix for one of the three promotion places,” reported secretary Kevin Turns.

Shannon North will be looking for a place in the starting line-up after scoring the only goal when introduced as a substitute against Birtley Town at the week-end.

With three wins in the last four games, Washington boss Richie Latimer is pleased going into the game which he reckons will be difficult. He said: “Red Star will be hard to beat at their place but we are on a decent run and I’m confident we’ll do okay.”

Chris Tate, who recently had a scan on his knee, is definitely out and so too are Michael Rush and Danny Robinson, who are working. Doubts surround the fitness of Lee Hamilton and Mark Covell. The pair have missed recent matches and Latimer will need to assess their fitness before announcing his starting line-up.

Birtley Town have slipped to fourth from bottom and are are just two points above the drop zone ahead of the visit of promotion challengers Darlington RA.

“We’ve lost the last five games all by a one-goal margin which just about sums up how our season is going,” said manager Scott Oliver.

“We need a bit of luck and a settled squad but I expect three players will be leaving us in the near future.

Captain Andrew Grant-Soulsby and Craig Marron are on the transfer list and neither will figure tonight. Kevin Dixon is also available to move but he is in the squad together with Wyn Fremlin, who has been signed from Alnwick Town. Other absentees include John Marron and Ben Johnson.