WHILE the title race is as keen as ever, interest at the opposite end of the table has been rekindled by Clara Vale’s victory over Corbridge last week.
Vale still have to make up 31 points on Corbridge, but they are at bottom club Belsay tomorrow.
And with Corbridge having to tackle high-flying Blue Flames, there is a significant chance that the gap could be closed to manageable proportions come close of play.
Vale skipper Dave Greener is as confident as ever that his side has the necessary power to mount a late run for safety.
He said: “I think we have enough going for us to get out of trouble.
“We need to win at Belsay and get a couple more good results, but I think we’ll be OK.
“The spirit is fantastic in the team. The lads are sticking together and playing for each other and, after our good win last week, we are on the up.”
The good news for Vale is that they have an unchanged side as they go for back-to-back victories that would really set up the end-of-season run-in.
However, Corbridge will be glancing anxiously over their shoulders as they try to extinguish Blue Flames’ title hopes, particularly as they will be missing Australian Alan Payne.
John Maude steps in as his replacement in an otherwise unchanged line-up.
Blue Flames will be missing three players, with Sean Collins, Paul White and Simon Glover all out.
With just 20 points separating the sides there is everything to play for at Stocksfield, where the leaders are missing Simon Wraith for their home game with title rivals Alnmouth and Lesbury.
Third-placed Cowgate go into their home match with Blyth with the same team as last week, but the visitors are without Surjit Singh, who is working.
Elsewhere, Heaton Park entertain Warkworth and Chopwell keep the same side as last week for their home game with Kirkley.
TOMORROW’S FIXTURES (second XI reversed): Premier Division – Belsay v Clara Vale, Chopwell v Kirkley, Corbridge v Blue Flames, Cowgate v Blyth, Heaton Park v Warkworth, Stocksfield v Alnmouth. Division One: Blagdon Park v Bates Cottages, Bomarsund v Bedlington, Northern Social v Civil Service, Stobswood v Monkseaton. Division Two: New Hartley v Tynemouth, Northumbria University v Hebburn, St George’s Rovers v Berwick, Whitley Bay v Cramlington.