Northern League: South Shields look to clinch title in Morpeth showdown

Seaham Red Star (red and white) battle against Morpeth Town last week. Morpeth won 3-1. Picture by Kevin Brady
Seaham Red Star (red and white) battle against Morpeth Town last week. Morpeth won 3-1. Picture by Kevin Brady
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South Shields will clinch the First Division title if they beat Morpeth Town at Mariners Park tomorrow.

Shields go into the game seven points ahead of third-top Morpeth, who have four games to go.

Dillon Morse is expected to miss out with the ankle injury picked up in last week’s win at North Shields, while Michael Richardson could return.

Carl Finnigan, who hit a hat-trick in the midweek win over Marske United, said: “Morpeth are on a good run as well, but they haven’t won 32 in a row, so there’s no one got more confidence than us.

“We’ll certainly take that confidence into the game and hopefully we can come out on top.

“We’re hoping for a big crowd coming to back us, and hopefully we can win the league for them.”

Washington must wait until Wednesday night’s visit to Morpeth Town to continue their fight to beat the drop, before heading to Ryhope CW next weekend for the home side’s final game of the campaign.

Two successive wins have lifted the Mechanics to fifth-bottom spot on 35 points, four above third-bottom Guisborough and two ahead of fourth-bottom West Auckland.

Guisborough, playing well in their surge towards safety, are at Penrith.

Official Bill Perfitt said: “David Onions picked up a thigh strain last week, but hopes to be fit and Gary Wood is nursing a hip injury, but may be fit enough for the bench.

“Guisborough beat Penrith 3-1 three weeks ago, so are looking to complete a double over them. Three points from this game are vital to help us get out of the relegation zone.”

Manager Gary Forster added: “Obviously we need every point we can get, but our destiny is in our own hands. After four wins on the trot, we are certainly on a successful run at the moment and that gives us a fighting chance.”

West Auckland face a tricky trip to Newcastle Benfield and club official Cliff Alderson said: “Fitness tests will be done for Darren Richardson, Ibrahim Hassan and Thomas Marron.

“Otherwise, we should be at full strength. It will be a tough game with Newcastle Benfield doing well, especially with Paul Brayson and John Campbell up front.

“It will not be easy, but we’ll try and get something from it.”

Relegated Chester-le-Street entertain Dunston UTS in their penultimate match at Chester Moor Park.

Dunston secretary Bill Montague said: “We will be without Scott Heslop, Christopher Youldon, Dale Burrell and Steven Richardson.

“We’re down to the bare bones of the team, and just hope to get a half decent team out.

“We want to get the league games finished now. We only have three games left, but are suffering really badly with injuries.”

Consett, in eighth place, travel to fourth-top Shildon.

Shildon president John Atkinson said: “We should have a full squad, including one or two of the youngsters again.

“We were disappointed with the draw last week, and manager Daniel Moore intends to finish the last three games with three wins.

“We want to put right what went wrong last week, get back to winning form, and finish on a winning streak.”

Bishop Auckland travel the short journey to Newton Aycliffe and secretary David Strong said: “It’s our last game of the season and it will be your typical end-of-season game. Both teams have nothing more to play for.”

Marske United are at home to Ashington, who miss Craig Scott and Shaun Bell.

Like Ryhope CW, Sunderland RCA are without a game - they head to Consett next Saturday before finishing off at home to Penrith on April 25.

Seaham Red Star have already completed their programme.

Today, with a noon kick-off, sixth-top Whitley Bay visit relegated neighbours West Allotment Celtic.

Bay aim to extend their unbeaten run to 10 games.

Goalkeeper Tom Flynn, who missed last week’s victory over West Auckland through suspension, returns, while striker Liam Brooks is doubtful with a rib injury.

West Allotment treasurer John Alexander said: “It will be a hard game. We’ll go out and give it our best shot.

“We’re looking forward to starting again next season in Division Two. Liam Hudson is still out with a long-term injury and will be unavailable.”