Ryhope CW’s momentous run of form has lifted them clear of trouble in Division One ahead of an intriguing home clash with table-toppers Morpeth Town at Recreation Park tomorrow (3pm).
Gary Pearson’s men are full of confidence to take on the Highwaymen, with 24 goals scored in their surge of five straight home successes.
Morpeth have lost four of their last eight league games, offering Ryhope inspiration as they look to make it six in a row.
Ryhope assistant manager Stuart Gooden said: “We are playing really well at the moment, in all departments, but the signing of Micky Rae has lifted the whole squad. He has been brilliant.
“We have lots of games left and our aim of finishing higher than last season (17th) is now a reality and we want to finish the season strongly.”
As for team news, Elliott Woods (ligaments) and Chris Wallace (knee) are unfortunately out for the rest of the season and Danni Lay is suspended. However, Kyle Davis and David Gordon, a sub at Washington in last week’s 9-1 derby win, are back in the squad.
Seaham Red Star, with just eight points taken from their last 11 games, hope to make it successive home victories against Guisborough Town.
Manager Craig Lynch said: “Last week, we gifted another goal to our opponents, which sent Ashington on their way to beat us.
“We could have taken something from the game, if we had not given them a simple opening goal. From that point, we lost our momentum and allowed Ashington to take charge.”
Tomorrow, Lee Chapman returns after serving a one-match suspension, but Andy Johnston is still ruled out with a knee injury.
New signing Jordan Lavender could be in the starting line-up. Lavender was on the books at Sunderland AFC before playing for three years in the USA. His international clearance was received just before the transfer deadline.
James Thompson has been drafted in from Red Star’s youth team and made a substitute appearance at Ashington. He could again be involved against the Priorymen.
Decklan Greenwood, a goalkeeper signed from Washington, could be in the squad.
On-form Sunderland RCA are away at Newton Aycliffe.
Manager Martin Swales said: “Our new signing from Bishop Auckland, goalkeeper Scott Pocklington, will be available.
“Clayton Davis, Luke Richardson and Jonny Davis are all unavailable due to work commitments, but skipper Greg Swansbury will be back in the squad and Nathan O’Neill needs a late fitness test.”
Swales added: “Newton Aycliffe seem to have improved a lot recently and have had some great results.
“We go down there anticipating a tough game, but we are feeling confident and hope to pick up all three points.”
Relegated Washington take on Shildon at the Nissan Sports Complex.
Secretary Lee Holmes said: “Pascal Chimbonda should return to the squad, after missing the last two matches with a niggling injury. Josh Akal is unavailable, but otherwise we have a full squad to select from.”
West Auckland, in third, entertain Ashington with a full squad available.
West manager Gary Forrest said: “We had a good win on Tuesday night against Marske United and hope to carry that form forward, to take another three points and consolidate our third place.”
The Colliers have Tony Stephenson and Jay Hornsby returning to the squad after suspension, but Luke Salmon, Ben Christensen and player-manager Steve Bowey, are all sidelined.
Bishop Auckland, not safe from the drop despite beating North Shields last week, host Billingham Synthonia, whose relegation will be finally confirmed if they fail to win.
Synners secretary Graham Craggs said: “The biggest problem we have is our goalkeeper James Dawson, who took a knock to his shin last weekend, but hopefully he’ll have recovered fully.
“Apart from that, we have a full squad to choose from, with all the young players fit and ready to go.
“We want to pick up a few points to make our season’s tally a little more respectable. We’re looking forward to next season, when we hope to turn our fortunes around.”
Dunston UTS host second-top title chasers Marske United. Liam Marrs, Jake Stafford, Michael Hall and Scott Heslop should return for the hosts, after missing out at Penrith last Saturday.
The Seasiders have Leon Carling returning from a ban and Chay Liddle and Liam O’Sullivan will also be available, but Curtis Round is a doubt due to illness.
Third-bottom Jarrow Roofing face a tough task at Newcastle Benfield in their survival fight.
Roofing manager Richie McLoughlin said: “They will pose a big test for us, and more so with Paul Brayson playing for them. He’s in good form and we will need to be alert to his movement.
“Then again, I feel we have the same in a good side with Dennis Knight and John Campbell up front, but we must show a lot more commitment and take the game to them.
“We cannot afford to sit back. We need to attack as we have good firepower in our ranks.
“The two most important things for us are to defend with a lot more commitment and work rate, and then to take the chances when they come along.”
Roofing will be without Liam Anderson, who starts a four-match suspension, alongside the injured Jamie Marshall and Iulian Petrache. Shaun Vipond may miss out due to work commitments.
North Shields welcome fifth-bottom Penrith, while Whitley Bay, on a run of six successive defeats, entertain Team Northumbria.