Northern League: Changes for Chester-le-Street against survival fighters Darlington RA

Sunderland RCA's Michael Charlton (red/white) loses out against Seaham Red Star last week. Picture by Kevin Brady
Sunderland RCA's Michael Charlton (red/white) loses out against Seaham Red Star last week. Picture by Kevin Brady

Chester-le-Street look to complete a Second Division double tomorrow, but third-bottom visitors Darlington RA are fighting hard to escape potential relegation.

Cestrians manager Colin Wake, whose side won 2-1 at RA in November, said: “A few lads will be missing on Saturday with it being Easter.

“Michael Hepplewhite is getting married, therefore his brother Daniel is also missing. Lee Mole is again doubtful through work, as is Kevin Dixon.

“However, we have Josh King and Alex Walker returning, after missing the midweek game.

“We are looking to continue our recent upturn in form and build on the last few improved performances.”

Easington Colliery travel to Esh Winning and could miss Shaun Smith due to work commitments.

Shane O’Brien is expected to return and, despite picking up a knock, David Vincent is expected to be fit. New signing Liam Cooke will continue to feature and Michael Cooke is another likely to return.

Durham City head to Ryton & Crawcrook Albion with striker Bradley Hird unavailable.

Manager Ollie Hotchkiss said: “Apart from that, we’re good to go like last Saturday (in a fine 5-2 win over Jarrow).

“This will be a difficult game away to very tough opposition. We had a good result last Saturday, but then were beaten on Tuesday (by West Allotment).

“We need to get back to winning ways, instead of putting in inconsistent performances. I hope we’ll come away with the points this weekend.”

Albion only miss Phil Hodges, Dom McMahon and Martyn Hepple, while students Andy Collins and Ben Shaw are available for selection.

Second-bottom Brandon United, on a seven-match winless run, make the short journey to Willington, who have managed just a single point from their last three games.

Fourth-top promotion hopefuls Hebburn Town welcome fifth-bottom Crook Town, looking to close the four-point gap to the top three.

Manager Scott Oliver said: “John Sherlock, Chris Feasey and Jon Wightman will be back in the squad after missing our last game.

“Chris Douglas will be missing and David Coulson, Dan Smith and Stu Bramley are all out injured.

“As we’re aiming for promotion, we need to keep winning games and putting pressure on the top three. We’re currently in fourth place and will be watching and waiting for the teams above us to slip up.”

Crook are only five points above the bottom three.

Millfield manager Chris Lax said: “It’s a big weekend for us with two games in three days, where we must look to pick up points.”

Forward Adam Lee-Shield is missing due to holidays, full-back Daniel Johnston is a doubt with a hamstring strain and utility player Christian Halliday is out for two weeks, after cutting his foot in a tackle last Sunday morning.

Sixth-top Tow Law Town, boosted by their midweek win over Heaton Stannington, visit Jarrow.

Jarrow manager Dave Bell said: “We have Luke Collins and Max Kirkham available, but Kris Allen and Alexander Bone are doubts through injury and Jordon Mellish serves the final game of his four-match suspension.

“Our three new signings – Aidan McGee, Kris Goss and Darryl Donnelly – have now all featured in games, which is brilliant for our progression as a club.”

Bell added: “Having played Tow Law recently, with the result a 1-0 win for us, we know they are a good side and the game at their ground could have gone either way.

“We have a great collective spirit and a shared aim of finishing as high up the league as we possibly can. We know another big challenge faces us and we are really looking forward to the game.”

Goss has made a big impact, impressing with a goal in last week’s defeat to Durham City and scoring twice in the midweek victory at Esh Winning.

Billingham Town, who entertain bottom club Alnwick Town, will miss Lee Moore for the remainder of the season.

Jason Blackburn is injured, while Jake Fenton and Reece Kenney are both unavailable.

Billingham boss James Hunter said: “A positive is that Mark Dixon will be back fit and Jack Connor will be back on the pitch, after a bit-part role the last couple of months.

“We will have a late fitness test on Brandon Kirkbride and the likelihood is that Clayton MacDonald could face a lengthy ban for his accumulation of yellow cards.”

Elsewhere, Bedlington Terriers host West Allotment Celtic, fifth-top Thornaby entertain leaders Blyth and Whickham ,in third, and are at home to Heaton Stannington.

On Monday, Esh Winning host fifth-bottom Crook Town, who are two places and seven points worse off.