Northern League: Chester-le-Street desperate for go-ahead as fixtures pile up in the run-in

Chester-le-Street (hoops) battle against Esh Winning earlier this season
Chester-le-Street (hoops) battle against Esh Winning earlier this season

Mid-table Chester-le-Street hope for the green light for their Second Division home clash with Heaton Stannington tomorrow (3pm).

Stalwart official Joe Burlison said: “Our season has been hit and miss recently, due to the wintry conditions.

“Before the spate of bad weather hit, we were playing well, but we’ve lost momentum with so many games being cancelled.

“We hope to get our rhythm back and fingers crossed the weather will start to change for the better.”

Andy Clarkson will be missing this weekend, as he is having a groin operation.

Dan Hepplewhite faces a fitness test, while boss Colin Wake may have a new signing on board.

Manager Wake added: “We are hoping to sign a forward from Morpeth for the weekend’s game and, after a good performance last week, I am looking for the side to continue the level of performance, but be better in the final third with the final ball.”

Easington Colliery have no match, and must wait until Thursday to host Billingham Town.

Esh Winning welcome Crook Town to Waterhouses, but have Nick Marley suspended and Kai Hewitson, Scott Arnott, Mark Fish, Gavin Brown and Callum Boakes are all missing due to work commitments.

Esh’s new signing from Crook, Sean Johnson, will be in the squad.

Manager Tony Boakes said: “We are expecting a very hard game from Crook, but we will be looking to reverse the result from earlier in the season.”

Brandon United travel to bottom club Alnwick Town in a crucial clash at the foot of the table.

Brandon official Barry Ross said: “Our team will yet again be unchanged, with no-one missing.

“The lads are raring to go, after not playing for two to three weeks. We have got to win this weekend’s match if we’re to have any chance of pulling ourselves away from the relegation zone.

“We desperately need to take all three points.”

Billingham Town, in seventh, entertain Darlington RA and manager James Hunter said: “It will be nice to get back on our pitch, as from now until the end of the season our home games are few and far between.

“It is obviously imperative that we put on a performance for the fans.

“There are still a couple of doubts over Jason Blackburn and Mark Dixon, but we hope they can be ready in time as they are both very strong members of our squad.

“Elliott Beddow is also a doubt with work commitments.

“The key for us is to finish the season as strongly as possible. You never know in this league, if you manage to get a couple of wins together and go on a run you could be right up there.

“In the same way, if you drop a couple of points, you begin to fall out of the pack at the top.”

Jarrow welcome Whickham to Perth Green, with Stevie Graham and Luke Collins unavailable. Jordon Mellish serving the second game of a four-match suspension and Peter Kane out injured.

Boss Dave Bell hopes that Mick Watson, Aaron Kah and Kris Allen will all be available.

Bell said: “They are a very strong and well organised team and have many threats, so this is a really tough test for us. We go into the game knowing how difficult this game is going to be, but go into it in good confidence.”

Whickham are third, level on points with new leaders Blyth and Northallerton.

Blyth visit former table-toppers Tow Law Town, whose dip in form has seen them slip to sixth place, albeit with games in hand.

Northallerton, down to second on goal difference following Blyth’s midweek win, host struggling Bedlington Terriers.

Ryton & Crawcrook Albion miss only Anth Brown at home to West Allotment Celtic. Both teams are on the fringe of the relegation mire, but have probably done enough to stay up.

Durham City host Thornaby in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup at Willington.

Boss Ollie Hotchkiss said: “The weather is awful and it was annoying to lose another game in midweek.

“Hopefully this weekend’s cup tie will go ahead, as it has been cancelled around seven times already. I hope the weather will be kind to us, but we face a tough game against strong opposition.

“We beat Thornaby 2-1 earlier in the season, but they’re flying high at the moment in fifth position.

“We will be quite strong going into the game, but we will be missing Steven Malloy, Jeremy Allen and Phil Hayes, while Dean Caris is rated 50/50.”

Long-term absentees Sam Joyce, Kieran Harnett and Adam Crathorne remain sidelined.