Silksworth CW may only have pride to play for, but they aim to end the season with a bang, starting in tomorrow’s local derby at Seaham Red Star Reserves.
Assistant secretary David Steele said: “We are buoyant after a really good result on Monday when we held third-top Cleator Moor Celtic to a draw.
“Although the Cumbrians are unlikely to win the championship, they are a very good team and to claim a point was an excellent achievement.”
Young goalkeeper Dan Lowerson played most of the second half with a broken finger and it’s fortunate that Graeme Pickering is now fully fit after missing three matches. He is an automatic replacement.
David Stevens, Jack Murphy, James Cook and Stephen Moody also come into the reckoning.
“We are taking a big squad, looking forward to a good game and hopefully building up towards a successful end to the season,” added Steele.
Red Star are third-bottom but they too had a good result in midweek, sinking Horden CW 5-0.
Secretary David Copeland said: “Our objective in the last three matches is to collect as many points as possible and hopefully steer clear of the second-from-basement position.
“It’s never easy coming into a new league, but there have been positives, and the form of young goalkeeper Chay Adamson is an example.
“The team has struggled, conceding 119 goals so far, but Chay has never let us down and recently was introduced into the first team coaching sessions.”
Captain Mark Ruddock, defender Adam Wilson and striker Wesley Smith return and manager Kevin Dixon probably has his strongest squad available.
Despite losing heavily to Jarrow in midweek, Ashbrooke Belford House are still in the top six before playing their penultimate match against Horden CW at Hartlepool’s Grayfields enclosure.
Joint manager Asa Dobbing has three in and three out. Corey Steele, Lee Owens and Mason Burton are available, but Jordan Birnie, Marc Egglestone and David Scott are all injured.
Fifth-top Horden CW hope to end their run of big defeats, with 17 goals conceded in the last theree games.
Sunderland West End – who until a few weeks ago were in with a chance of winning the title – are now down to fourth and effectively out of the running.
Anth Nelson’s side could again find the going difficult against much-improved Prudhoe Town at Kimberley Park. Reece Davies, Kevin Moreland and Lee Best are all back to boost Prudhoe.
Spennymoor Town Reserves travel to Jarrow, with Chris Baxter and Kai Willis coming into contention. Connor Dunlavey and David Atkinson are ruled out.
Murton are guaranteed to be the wooden spoonists, with one win and three draws from 35 games ahead of another tough challenge at home to Paul Mossa’s Boldon CA.
Hartlepool, away to Richmond Town, will probably be without Jack Swales for the remaining matches after he picked up an injury last Saturday, but defender Terry Wilkinson and strikers Jonny Murray, Andy Blackburn and Luke Larkin are all fit.
Centre-half Jason Newall misses out for Richmond, who have a ready replacement in Mark Edzes, while midfielders Kalumn Holbrook and Sam Bamber Lister also come into the reckoning.
Strikers Scott Ryan and Sam Joyce, however, are both doubtful.
Stockton Town, favourites to win the championship and promotion to the Ebac Northern League Second Division, will bid for a place in the Wearside League Cup final when they host third-top Cleator Moor Celtic in an intriguing encounter.
Leam Rangers will hope to make home advantage count against Redcar Athletic in their Shipowners’ Cup semi-final – but they are very much the under-dogs.
Second-top Redcar have never lost to Leam, and have beaten the Gateshead side 7-0 and 5-1 this season.
The Seasiders have doubts surrounding Lewis Wood and James Swann, while Leam go without the suspended Steven Usher but full-back Ben Miller and centre-half David Stephenson are available.