Northern League: Chester wary of relegation battlers Brandon – if they get the go-ahead

Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake
Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake

Chester-le-Street expect a tough challenge away to survival scrappers Brandon United in the Second Division tomorrow (3pm kick-off).

Chester manager Colin Wake said: “With all the recent cancellations, all of the little niggles that we were carrying have gone away, so we have a full squad to select from.

“Brandon are scrapping for their lives and have brought in quite a few First Division players who should help with their situation, so we are expecting a real battle.

“It won’t be one for the footballing purists, but should be a well contested game of football.”

Brandon joint manager Barry Ross said: “We have doubts over Craig Ruddy, Warren Byrne, Decklin Moss and Kieran Alderson.

“Daniel Pearson, Chris Spence and Gavin Mudd are all added to the squad.

“It’s another game where we need to gain maximum points, to prevent us finishing in the bottom two, where we are at the minute.”

Durham City have lost star striker Bradley Hird to First Division Shildon.

They face a tough trip to fifth-placed Thornaby tomorrow, with manager Ollie Hotchkiss saying: “I have a full squad to choose from, so there are no headaches in that department.

“We are really looking forward to the game and, with a bit of luck, it will be on, as the weather is absolutely terrible.

“It will be a tough game against a good Thornaby side, especially going away from home, but hopefully we can apply ourselves right.

“If we can implement the game plan, then, fingers crossed, we will come away with the three points.”

Easington Colliery have no match this weekend, but return away to Crook Town on Wednesday.

Tow Law Town, after a first win in six matches, entertain Esh Winning.

Esh have Nick Marley, Mark Fish, Callum Boakes and Matty Allison missing, but should have Scott Arnott and Chris Mordue available.

Manager Tony Boakes said: “We will have to be on top form this weekend against a very good side, who are still looking for a promotion spot.”

Willington in ninth, could still make a late surge for promotion as they welcome bottom club Alnwick Town, to Hall Lane. The home side have won two, drawn two and lost two of their last six games, whereas Alnwick have taken seven points from a possible 18, in their last six matches.

Crook Town travel to West Allotment Celtic, with the fixture reversed to get the game played on the 3G surface at Druids Park.

Defender Joe Spooner and forward Adam Lee-Shield are away on holiday, and full-back Daniel Johnston is unavailable due to work commitments, but new signings Peter Brown and Alex Wilson are both in the squad.

Relegation-threatened Darlington RA welcome Ryton & Crawcrook Albion, who have a full squad available apart from vice-captain Phil Hodges, who may require surgery.

Albion secretary Anthony Fawcett said: “We have played the most amount of games in our league (34) yet we find ourselves having to play four games in a week.

“Although this will be extremely difficult, it may be that challenge we need to finally get us over the line in our quest to avoid relegation.”

RA are still in relegation trouble, but have collected seven points from their last six matches.

Elsewhere, Bedlington Terriers host leaders Blyth and second-placed Northallerton entertain Heaton Stannington.

There is a huge match tonight, with fourth-top Hebburn Town visiting third-placed Whickham.

Both teams are in cracking form and the hosts have a four-point cushion, plus a game in hand.

Whickham are level on points with leaders Blyth and Northallerton, so a draw or better will take them into pole position, even if temporarily.

Hebburn miss Stu Bramley with a hamstring injury, but John Sherlock returns after missing the game at Bedlington two weeks ago.

Boss Scott Oliver said: “Let’s hope Whickham can get the game on after the shocking weather we have had.

“Whickham are the only team in the top six to beat us this season and we had no complaints back in October, but we are a different team in many ways from that night.

“We know what to expect and we will be well set up to get the win we want.

“Although the result will be very important, there will still be a long way to go in the race after this game.”