Northern League: It's now or never for Durham City in fight for survival
It is just about win or bust for Durham City in tomorrow's crucial First Division game at Guisborough Town.
Either the Citizens or West Allotment Celtic, who have completed their programme, will join Bedlington Terriers and Norton and Stockton Ancients in Division Two next season.
Durham trail West Allotment by seven points but have four games to play and a much superior goal difference .
Manager Chris Moore is desperate for three points at the King George V ground, saying: “We play Guisborough tomorrow and then we have them at Consett on Tuesday night.
“They will be two really tough games, so we’ve got to get a win under our belts at their place. Our other two games are against North Shields and Whitley Bay.”
City are unable to name Mark Bertram and will need to give late fitness tests to Ross Wilkinson and Nathan Lawrence before finalising the squad.
It’s been a topsy-turvy season for Washington. After challenging near the top for most of the campaign, they are now down to mid-table ahead of the visit from Bedlington.
Although their form has been inconsistent of late, the Mechanics should be too strong for the Northumbrians whose relegation was confirmed with the midweek defeat to Shildon.
After losing heavily at Newcastle Benfield on Wednesday, Dunston UTS are aiming to win their last three games and end the season on a high.
Their objective could prove difficult, however, since tomorrow they host FA Vase finalists Morpeth Town.
UTS secretary Bill Montague said: “They are an excellent team and I hope they don’t pick up any more injuries before going to Wembley. The North East football fraternity wishes them the best of luck.
“Tomorrow, though, we’ll be going all out to beat them and, now that we are getting back towards full-strength, I feel we are in with a chance.”
Manager Billy Irwin will, in particular, hope that Dan Halliday can play. He was out for three months but made his comeback as a substitute last Saturday.
Mattie Fisher has completed a ban and also named are James Luccock and Gary Shaw.
A massive blow to Morpeth is the news that David Hiftle will be out for at least six months after suffering a posterior cruciate ligament injury.
“David has been our most consistent defender this season and it’s a huge disappointment that he’ll not be able to play at Wembley,” observed manager Nick Gray.
Michael Chilton and James Novak are also sidelined tomorrow, but Dan Taggart has regained fitness.
With teams completing an exacting end to the season, it’s not surprising that most have long injury lists – and Consett are no exception.
They entertain Newton Aycliffe missing Ryan McKinnon, Dan Madden and Michael Sweet. Also out is goalkeeper Peter Jeffries, who will be replaced by Gareth Young.
“We are looking to end in the top six, so it’s a six-pointer,” declared manager Mark Eccles.
Newcastle Benfield’s top-flight status is secure before the visit to West Auckland. “We’ve been playing four games in eight days and the lads are tired out. We’ll be down to the bare bones tomorrow and it may be that my colleague, Mark Convery, will have to play,” said player-manager Paul Brayson.
Sunderland RCA secured only their second win in eight First Division games last night, beating Morpeth Town 2-0.
In an entertaining game, Martin Swales’ side broke the deadlock on the hour when Stephen Callen set up Jonny Wightman, who slotted the ball wide of goalkeeper Karl Dryden.
Three minutes later, Wightman’s defence-splitting pass was picked up by Joe Hughes and he made no mistake.
Second-top Marske United won 2-1 Ashington, Connor Hood and Nathan Mulligan netting after James Harmison fired Ashington in front.
Shildon’s title challenge hit an unexpected setback at Newton Aycliffe, with ex-Sunderland reserve-teamer Jordan Laidler scoring a hat-trick in a 3-0 win.
Shildon, though, need just five points from their last three games to be champions.
Callum Patton’s penalty earned Whitley Bay a 1-1 draw at Guisborough, after trailing to Gerard Livingston’s goal.
Easington Colliery completed their Second Division campaign in sixth place with a 3-1 success against Billingham Town.
Joe Kerridge, Bryan Norton and Aidan Haywood did the damage, with Craig Hutchinson equalising at one point.
Tow Law beat Thornaby 3-2, thanks to Adam Knowles, Kai Hewitson and Lee Blades.
The semi-finals of the Cameron Brewery Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup take place tomorrow.
North Shields host Shildon. “We should have a big crowd and it will be a really tough game, but we have had a canny run recently and hopefully we can reach the final,” declared Robins’ assistant manager Andy Bowman, who is hopeful that Dean Holmes will be able to play.
Whitley Bay go to Marske United with a severely weakened squad.
Manager Ian Chandler reports that goalkeeper Tom Flynn, Aiden Haley, Callum Munro, Jake Fowler and Callum Patton are all cup-tied, while neither Stuart Bramley nor Richard Flynn can figure.
“I’ll probably look to bring in two or three lads from the reserve squad. There’s a chance that Dillon Blake, Graeme Williams, Ryan Keltie and Andy Robinson, who scored five goals in two games for us recently, will be involved,” said Chandler.