GATESHEAD Leam Rangers, who finished fourth bottom of the Wearside League, could hardly have wished for a more difficult opening day fixture.
Although they have home advantage, they line up against Redcar Athletic who only just missed out on promotion to the Ebac Northern League.
The Tynesiders have been busy on the transfer front during the close season, signing nine players, but unfortunately two of last season’s squad are ruled out.
Leading scorer Liam Barnett and club player of the year Mark Williams are struggling with groin strains.
Redcar Athletic are again expected to challenge for honours and they have no selection concerns with newcomers Craig Skelton, Adam Cheung, Dale Mendum, Ryan Thompson and James Fleming all expected to play a part.
Prudhoe Town aim to improve on their seventh from bottom rating and they are at Hartlepool unable to call upon Nathan Burrell and Gavin Lisle. Jarrow go without Graeme Matthewson against Kirkbymoorside and they will be further depleted should Andrew Wilkinson and Anthony Chilton fail fitness tests.
Silksworth Rangers travel down the A19 to Wolviston and could hand debuts to James Alston, Johnny Thompson, Shaun Fletcher and George McCain. A further boost is the availability of goalkeeper Adam Don.
With Shaun Gregory sidelined and Luke Bennington a doubt, Wolviston could line up with several new faces.
Peterlee Town have brought in Liam Dunn from Sunderland RCA, Ryan Graham, Ryan Mather and Richard Maughan (Seaham Red Star) and Jordan Thompson from Ryhope CW and they are named for the visit of Harton and Westoe.
With Richmond Town, Seaton Carew and Harton and Westoe having joined, the competition boasts 22 clubs – the highest number for several years. Easington Colliery, relegated from the Ebac Northern League, have replaced Ryhope CW who moved in the opposite direction.