Northern League: Easington face intriguing day, with sixth place finish still a possibility

Easington Colliery (green) battle it out with Brandon United in last week's 3-2 home win. Picture by Kevin Brady
Easington Colliery (green) battle it out with Brandon United in last week's 3-2 home win. Picture by Kevin Brady
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Easington Colliery journey to Crook Town for their final Second Division game tomorrow.

Striker Michael Bulmer is suspended, while a shoulder problem keeps Shane O’Brien out.

But forward David Paul is expected to be fit, despite picking up a knock against Brandon United last week.

Dylan Elliott will play his final game for the Colliers before his loan from Hartlepool United expires, while Ian Redman could return to the side.

Seventh-top Easington – who could finish as high as sixth or as low as eighth – are seeking a 20th league win of the season in their 40th and final match.

Crook have a fully fit and available squad, apart from the unavailable Christian Holliday.

Esh Winning have finished bottom, with Ryton and Crawcrook Albion leapfrogging them into second-bottom spot in midweek.

Willington or Darlington RA will finish third-bottom, with the Hall Lane side a point better off.

Willington, with club legend Rob Lee back in charge of the team, have a tough trip to Northallerton, who have one eye on their upcoming Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup final against Stockton Town next weekend.

Northallerton manager Darren Trotter said: “We should have a fully fit squad, and some tough decisions to make for the final next week.

“Willington are a tough side. Rob Lee has taken back over and has a lot of lads playing for him.

“They’re going to be hard to beat. We did beat them in the quarter-final a few weeks ago and we had to come from behind to win. They’re going to work hard and cause some problems for us.”

Darlington RA host sixth-top Whickham, who miss Ricky Fenwick, Craig Rook and David Clasper , though David Fitzpatrick and Callum Broadhead return.

Whickham boss Robin Falcus said: “This is a huge game for us because if we win, we finish sixth and that will be enough to qualify for the FA Cup next season. That’s been our goal since the start of this season.”

Tow Law Town entertain Billingham Town, who have a doubt over Jack Connor (ankle).

Billingham Town secretary Peter Martin said: “It’s been a cracking season for us, and we’ll start planning for next season.”

Brandon United host newly-promoted Billingham Synthonia, who have Nathan Mulligan returning from suspension, Anthony Peacock from illness and Dale Mulligan from a troublesome dead leg.

Champions Stockton Town aim for a 10th double when they visit fourth-top Heaton Stannington.

Stockton have beaten everyone in the league except lowly Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, who managed two draws.

Stockton manager Michael Dunwell will have all his squad available except Matthew Garbutt, who hopes to be fit for next Saturday’s cup final. With the title won, he may opt to rest some key men.

Team Northumbria travel to Thornaby looking for a point to guarantee second place.

Manager Colin Stromsoy said: “It’s our final game and one in which we aim to finish strongly and guarantee a runners-up place in the league.

“We are, of course, desperately disappointed not to have taken the championship to the last game of the season, but credit to Stockton Town, who have been the most efficient and effective team this year and are worthy champions.

“We want to ensure we finish positively though, as, ultimately, we have succeeded in meeting our main aim this season which was promotion back to Division One.”

Hebburn Town have Glen Hargrave, keeper Steve Hubery, Ian Bickerstaff and Jason Blackburn back for the visit of Blyth Town.

But Adam Rundle is working and Mick Watson, Callum Smith and Craig Malley are doubts after coming off on Tuesday against Newcastle Under-23s in their midweek friendly.

Boss Scott Oliver said: “Changes need to be made to the squad to make us more consistent, which is a shame as, on our day, we look a very good team, but, overall, this group has underachieved.

“Of course we are all grateful for how the players have stayed during our problems – they are great lads and have helped us see out the season.

“The crowd on Tuesday was great to see – the potential at this club is huge but we must get things right so we do not end up in this situation again.”