SKILLTRAININGLTDNORTHERN LEAGUE

AFTER conceding two points to lowly Seaham Red Star in midweek, the pressure is on Spennymoor Town, who have been favourites for the championship in recent weeks.

AFTER conceding two points to lowly Seaham Red Star in midweek, the pressure is on Spennymoor Town, who have been favourites for the championship in recent weeks.

They are still in the driving seat, three points behind Consett with as many games in hand but Newcastle Benfield are breathing down their necks.

The Tynesiders are equal on points but have played one game more than their rivals.

Today, Moors could again find it difficult at Chester-le-Street, who expect to end in their highest position for some years.

The Cestrians’ only absentee is youngster James Ellis, who last night was included in the English Schools FA squad which met Scotland at St Mirren.

Consett are at home to Billingham Synthonia and manager Kenny Lindoe anxiously awaits fitness reports on several players.

David Johnston, Michael Coulthard, David Scorer, Adam Emson, Carl Piecha, Craig Robson and John Jonjo Dickman are all doubtful.

Synners, who on Monday defeated Durham City in the final of the Durham Challenge Cup, will definitely be minus four players.

Tommy Morran, Mark Casey, Daryn Sanky and David Abel are all out while goalkeeper Ben Escritt is extremely doubtful after picking up an injury last Saturday which caused him to miss the final.

It has been a hectic week for Newcastle Benfield, but Tom Wade will have his side up to the task at Billingham Town, who need points for a different reason.

The Teessiders are fifth from bottom just six points above the last relegation place. Their manager Peter Mulcaster, pleased at holding Tow Law Town to a draw in midweek, anticipates having his strongest squad on standby.

Dunston Federation now look to be out of the title race after suffering a number of defeats recently. They welcome Tow Law Town to Federation Park, where they will aim to arrest a recent slide and hopefully claim a top-six finish.

It is also extremely tight at the bottom of the table. West Auckland Town are at the basement and will not relish visiting FA Carlsberg finalists Whitley Bay, who on Wednesday hit another of the relegation threatened sides, Bishop Auckland, for six.

Seaham Red Star are just a point and a place above West Auckland but believe they still have a chance of avoiding the drop following encouraging performances in recent weeks.

They led Spennymoor Town by two goals on Wednesday before having to settle for a share of the points.

Manager Andy Towman awaits news on the fitness of Paul Griffiths, Kyle Bird, Josh DeSilva and Phil Whitehead before deciding on his line up at Morpeth Town.

Bedlington Terriers are now clear of the threat of relegation, but they could have a say in Northallerton Town’s fate when the sides meet at Welfare Park.

Bishop Auckland are also in the relegation dog fight and after leaking six goals in their last game will find it difficult against Sunderland Nissan, who are ending the season with a flourish.

Manager Wilf Constantine expects Neil Tarrant and Tyson Masters to resume, but Andrew Appleby and Gary Pearson are definite non-starters.

In Division Two, Norton and Stockton Ancients have cinched promotion but could be pipped for the championship by either Esh Winning or Horden CW.

Norton dropped two points at Birtley Town on Wednesday and play their last game in the return fixture on Teesside.

Esh Winning should claim maximum points from their visit to bottom-of-the-table Thornaby, while Horden CW are also fighting for promotion points against Darlington RA at Welfare Park.

Sunderland RCA are on the other side in with a chance of going up but they probably need to win their last three games, starting against Team Northumbria at Meadow Park, to have a chance.

MALCOLM PRATT

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