Seaham Red Star, on a four-game run without a league victory, face a daunting challenge at Consett in Division One tomorrow, weather permitting.
Red Star are 14th after last week’s 2-2 draw against Ryhope CW, and manager Chris McCabe is facing up to key alterations to his side.
“Obviously changes have to be made with Callum Munro out suspended and Luke Gilhespy very doubtful,” said McCabe.
“Bu t we have good cover with Kieran Galbraith, who has had the cast removed from his arm, and Tom Bramley, who has proven to be a good deputy when Callum has been out previously.”
McCabe added: “It will be nice to try and build on last week’s performance, when we played well against Ryhope CW and should have taken all three points.
“Aaron Croft is expected to return from injury, but Craig Lynch is still ruled out and Andrew Johnston will face a late fitness test.”
Consett manager Mark Eccles, with his free-scoring side in third place, said: “Ross Coombe and Dan Hawkins are still out injured and David Dowson is struggling.
“Apart from that, I have a full squad available and we have another tough game, but hopefully, at home, we can keep our run going and pick up all three points and keep pushing to finish as high as we can.”
Ryhope CW have slipped alarmingly down the table to fifth-bottom spot, just nine points from the relegation places.
It gets no easier tomorrow, when a rejuvenated Guisborough Town side visit Recreation Park.
The home side have picked up just one point in their last six games, compared to the Priorymen’s one win and four draws in their last five.
One thing in Ryhope’s favour is that they have games in hand on most of the teams at the bottom, although third-bottom Jarrow Roofing have played the same number of matches.
Ryhope assistant manager Stuart Gooden said: “Chris Wallace and David Gordon are out with long-term injuries and captain Kyle Davis is also out injured.
“Returning to the squad is Adam Cox.
“We are looking forward to the game. Guisborough have had a good run lately, so we are expecting a tough game, but hopefully we can put in a good performance.”
Sunderland RCA, in eighth place, travel to Dunston UTS, who are a point behind in ninth, albeit with three matches in hand.
Meadow Park manager Martin Swales, looking to bounce back from last week’s home defeat to Whitley Bay, said: “Reece Noble and Michael Charlton are out injured, but Colin Larkin, Jonny Davis and Dylan Elliot are all available and there will be late fitness tests for Greg Swansbury and Luke Page.
“Dunston are doing great at the moment, but we always seem to get a result when we go there and we are hoping that will continue.”
Dunston manager Chris Swailes said: “I hope to have a full squad available, with the return of Michael Hall.”
Second-bottom Washington are away at Newton Aycliffe in a ‘must win’ game for the Mechanics, who are now 13 points from safety.
Washington have a full squad to choose from, although they do have a long-term injury absentee in Corey Barnes (dislocated shoulder), while former Sunderland defender Pascal Chimbonda is suspended.
West Auckland Town, up to fifth place after last week’s fine win over Morpeth Town, are away to Team Northumbria, who have only lost one game in their last six outings, winning four of them.
West are unbeaten in their last six games, with three wins and three draws and press officer Cliff Anderson said: “We are still without Anthony Bell due to suspension, but Alex Francis and Mark Doninger return this week after missing last week’s game.
“We have signed goalkeeper Shane Bland from Spennymoor Town for the rest of the season, and he could get his debut this weekend.
“We are hoping to keep our good run going after last week’s great win against top-of-the-league Morpeth.
“It will be a difficult game against a much-improved Team Northumbria though.”
Shildon have dropped to sixth place, with only one win in their last six outings.
They journey to local rivals Bishop Auckland, who are 10 points above the relegation zone and not safe just yet, as Jarrow Roofing have three games in hand on the Two Blues.
Bottom club Billingham Synthonia journey to North Shields without Wilf Dinsdale, who has moved on to Bishop Auckland.
James Beauchamp has joined the club from Wearside League side Darlington Reserves, though Ryan Braithwaite is struggling with a back injury, according to secretary Graham Craggs.
Fourth-placed Marske United, fresh from reaching the FA Vase quarter-finals, are at home to Newcastle Benfield.
Matthew Bell is out injured, but United hope to announce a new signing ahead of the game.
The other Vase survivors, Stockton Town, welcome Ashington, while runaway leaders Morpeth Town entertain Penrith and seventh-placed Whitley Bay are at home to third-bottom Jarrow Roofing, who are eight points from safety.