THE game of the day is between Dunston Federation and Newcastle Benfield, with the Fed attempting to avenge one of only two defeats they have suffered this season.
Benfield won the initial fixture on the opening day of the campaign but the Fed are unbeaten since August, having stretched a phenomenal unbeaten sequence to 16 games.
Manager Perry Briggs, who welcomes the return of Andrew Bulford and Kane Young, said: "It’s going to be a really tough match. Benfield are a useful side, as they proved when they defeated us at the start of the campaign, but since then we have played exceptionally well."
His opposite number, Tom Wade, last night paid a warm tribute to Dunston, who he rates as an exceptionally good side. He said: "I’ll be surprised if they are not there or thereabouts for the championship and I know we have a game on our hands this afternoon, especially as we will be without captain Kevin Leighton, Alu Bangura, Scott Marshall, Dean Fuller and Ian Graham."
Leaders Consett, who have drawn their last two games, need a victory at Penrith, but they go into the fixture minus striker Mattie Moffat, who this week joined Durham City.
Manager Kenny Lindoe has moved to sign former Burscough player David Ayre.
Whitley Bay, who next week will be involved in the FA Carlsberg Vase, visit Tow Law Town with crucial championship points at stake for both clubs.
Following their midweek victory, the Seasiders trail Consett by just a couple of points and, although the Lawyers are down to ninth, they have several games in hand on all the teams above them.
Following two consecutive postponements in the last week, Sunderland Nissan are anxious for their game with Bedlington Terriers to go ahead on Wearside. Manager Wilf Constantine will hand a debut to Brian Fairless, signed from Shildon.
West Allotment Celtic are another side in the championship race and, at home to Billingham Town, miss Keith Douglas with an ankle injury. Lee York, meanwhile, has joined Team Northumbria.
Billingham Town boss Peter Mulcaster has snapped up Stephen Purcifer from Northallerton Town and Lee Piecha from Brandon United. Both players come into his plans today but he cannot name the suspended Shaun Clark. Ashington host lowly South Shields at Woodhorn Lane while Seaham Red Star are at Chester-le-Street, who have striker Wayne Gredziak back after a one-match ban. Ibby Hassan is a doubt after picking up an injury playing for his college.
Justin Millican is on his way back to full fitness but both Paul Dunn and David Tremble are ruled out.
Ryton are enjoying a good first season in the top flight and, at bottom-of-the-table Bishop Auckland will field Johnny Hands in goal since Ben Starford has been placed on the transfer list at his own request.
Boss Barry Fleming, who has guided three sides into Division One in recent seasons, expects Craig Marron, Stephen Shaw and Jimmy Farrell to be available. Morpeth Town are desperate for this afternoon’s fixture with West Auckland Town at Craik Park to go ahead following several postponements.
They have only played three home matches and have 19 to fulfil, including a cup-tie with Jarrow Roofing.
Jon King adds Tony Stephenson and Paul Haxon to his list of available players.
In Division Two, Whickham aim to enhance their promotion prospects by defeating Whitehaven at The Glebe. Manager Terry Ritson includes signing Michael Pitt and Nicky Kerr but Gary Andison is out with a cartilage injury.
Washington, still unable to use Albany Park, plan to stage their game with Thornaby at Birtley Town.