Wearside League: West End boss says '˜it's now or never' in Stockton Town title crunch
Manager Anth Nelson reckons it's 'now or never' for Sunderland West End in tomorrow's crucial top-three fixture away to Stockton Town.
Defending champions Stockton are second in the table, nine points ahead of the Wearsiders, who have two games in hand.
“Without question, it is a must-win game for us. If we lose then it’s as good as over. A point would keep us in the frame, but really we need all three,” said Nelson.
Stephen Lax has completed a ban and is immediately recalled to the West End squad.
Nelson’s only injury concern is for Barry Turton and he is keeping his fingers crossed that the prolific striker will have recovered from a hamstring strain.
Stockton, who are only a point behind leaders Redcar Athletic having played four fewer matches, are favourites to clinch a fourth consecutive championship. Victory over West End would take them another step towards their goal.
They miss Chris Dunwell, but Adam Nicholson is expected to successfully come through a fitness test.
Redcar Athletic host Spennymoor Town Reserves without Joe Blackburn. Kristian Kamara and Sam Webster are in competition to fill the vacancy.
Moors are awaiting international clearance for Rhys Greenwood, who has been playing in Sweden, but Matthew Pennall definitely comes into contention.
Neither Neil Charlton nor Connor Dunlavey can play and there’s a doubt surrounding David Gibson.
Moors, meanwhile, will revert to being called Coxhoe Athletic next season.
Mark Robinson has rejoined Silksworth CW after spells with Northern League outfits Seaham Red Star and Easington Colliery.
He is pencilled into the team sheet for the visit to Harton and Westoe, as is Stephen Bagshaw, who has returned from a loan spell with Billingham Town.
Michael Brunning, Daley Clark and Craig Stewart also come into the reckoning and Silksworth’s only doubt surrounds Andrew Donnelly.
It’s a case of three out and three in for Harton. David Bulman is banned and Darren Wann and Jak Quantrill all miss out, but defenders Neil Crammon and David Graham, together with striker Danny Lydon, come into the frame.
Ashbrooke Belford House’s Jordan Birnie will miss the remainder of the season after breaking a leg in last week’s game.
Also sidelined are Dillon Holden, David Scott, Mark Green and Lee Andrews when Ashbrooke take on Boldon CA at Silksworth Welfare Park.
Kevin Humble, Lee Owens and Richard Jordan are available to joint manager Asa Dobbing.
Boldon miss leading scorer Adam Bell and his strike partner, Adam Sharp, is on the injured list.
This probably means that manager Paul Mossa will again play midfielder Shaun Graham up front. He scored a hat-trick in his temporary role last Saturday.
Seaham Red Star Reserves travel down the A19 to meet Wolviston in a bottom-three clash. Ryan Marshall, Ryan Martin and Matthew Nixon come into a strong pool of players, but Star await news on the availability of Mark Ruddock.
Wolviston, nine points behind Red Star with five games in hand, are much stronger, with captain Shaun Gregory, Nick Robinson and Nathan Summersgill all included.
Horden CW, playing all their games away from Welfare Park, could go fourth with a win at Prudhoe Town, who have Reece Davis suspended.
Hartlepool are just one place and a point ahead of Horden going into their home fixture with sixth-placed Cleator Moor Celtic.
Pool, hoping to make home advantage count, line up Joe Osbourne and goalkeeper Callum Hudson could make his comeback after being out for several weeks. Alex Marshall and Kalon Lloyd are unavailable.
Goalkeeper Neil Postlethwaite is expected to feature in Leam Rangers’ side, but full-back Ben Miller is banned for the fixture with Jarrow at Hill Top.
The South Tynesiders bring in Alexander Bone, Darren Morton, Paul Burrell, Dean Black and Liam Bayles.
Annfield Plain name their strongest squad for the visit to Richmond, who have captain Scott Ryan, Lee White and Gary Hutchinson away.
Michael Elliott is again missing, but new signing Ben Clarke is expected to be involved at some stage.
Murton, who came close to claiming what would have been only a fourth point of the season in last week’s game, face a long journey to Whitehaven.