Top-five target as Durham prepare to take on Bishop Auckland

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AFTER taking four points from their last two games, Durham City manager Ian Chandler is looking for another three against Bishop Auckland in tomorrow’s Ebac Northern League First Division game at New Ferens Park.

The City boss said: “We are sitting in a nice position, eighth from top, and the aim is to reach the top five.

“We are equal on points with Bishops, who are ahead of us on goal difference, so a win would move us up to seventh.”

Luke Carr, recently signed from West Auckland, makes his home debut and Chandler is confident Callum Hope will be back, though Chris Wallace is still suspended.

Following the disappointment of losing to relegation-threatened Billingham Synthonia last weekend, Jarrow Roofing should return to winning ways against bottom-of-the-table Crook Town at the Millfield Ground.

Manager Richie McLoughlin, though, is taking nothing for granted, saying: “People reckon it’s an easy game, but I don’t look at it that way.

“After last week, we’ve got to pick our game up and give it our best shot.”

Danny Carson, Wayne Phillips and goalkeeper Alan Greenan return and it would be a major shock if Roofing do not come out on top. Last Saturday, Crook – despite a gallant fight from their never-say-die young side –conceded 11 goals to Shildon and, in total, they have leaked 118 in just 27 games.

Peter Mulcaster’s Crook, who recently had three of their meagre six points accumulated taken away because of a rule infringement, have a mountain to climb if they are to avoid the drop.

Second-bottom Sunderland RCA are again without a fixture and already have several games in hand on the sides surrounding them.

Third-bottom Billingham Synthonia are involved in a six-pointer at Celtic Nation, who are one place and two points better off.

Synners, who have only ever spent one season in Division Two, take their strongest squad to Carlisle, including returning pair Theo Furness and Matthew Osmond.

Another two sides embroiled in the relegation dog-fight, Newton Aycliffe and West Allotment Celtic, are in opposition.

A blow for the Tynesiders is the news that player-manager Paul Stoneman could be sidelined for some time after picking up an injury in the Boxing Day defeat at Whitley Bay.

Ryan Beal is unavailable and Ian Dunn will need a check on his fitness, but Sean Reid returns.

At the top, Andy Toman’s West Auckland will be looking to regain winning form at the expense of Morpeth Town, while second-placed North Shields host Marske United, who are third.

“They beat us down at their place, so we are looking for revenge and to keep the pressure on West Auckland,” said North Shields assistant manager Andy Bowman who reports that ace marksman Gareth Bainbridge may not play again until the end of January.

Paul Chow misses Whitley Bay’s home game with Penrith after he needed three stitches in a head wound sustained in the festive win over West Allotment.

Dunston UTS, who together with North Shields and Consett are through to the last 32 of the FA Carlsberg Vase, host the Steelmen and manager Billy Irwin expects to have goalkeeper Liam Connell and Andy Bulford in his squad.

Consett, though, miss several players ,with Ryan Bell, David Brown, Chris Elliott, Mattie Slocombe and Aristote Guerin Lakonga all out. Gilberto Chapim, meanwhile, has been placed on the transfer list at his own request.