Newton Aycliffe manager Deano Browne admits that this afternoon’s game at fellow strugglers Washington is an early season six pointer.

Aycliffe go into the game in in fourth bottom place in the first division with only one win to their credit this season, while Washington have yet to win a league game, and in midweek lost to second division Crook Town in the Durham Challenge Cup.

“It’s a huge game for us against another team who are struggling for form,” he said. “We go into this game on the back of some positive work during training this week and confident of a good performance. I would say it’s a six pointer because it’s a big game for both clubs and three points to either side could kickstart their season.”

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Defender Alan Harrison, winger Josh Gray and keeper James Winter are all missing for various reasons, but striker Stuart Banks and defender Dan Mitton should both pass fitness tests.

There’s a top of the table clash when second placed West Auckland go to leaders Morpeth, who are a point ahead of West and have played two games less.

“There’s no rest for the wicked, “ said manager Gary Forrest. “The Auckland derby, North Shields, Marske and now Morpeth all in succession. We need to look at building on Wednesday’s win at Marske.”

Midfielder Anthony Bell is suspended and striker Ben Wood is injured. Meanwhile, West expect to complete the transfer of midfielder Tommy Marron to Bishop Auckland before the game Bishop Auckland manager Colin Myers is hoping to include at least one new signing in their squad for the home game with Team Northumbria.

Bishops lost 6-2 to Dunston in the Durham Challenge Cup in midweek, the third time this season that they have leaked six goals, and Myers is now looking to strengthen his squad. “It wasn’t a good performance at all in midweek,” he said.

Strikers Andy Johnson and Matty Moffat, plus midfielder Ryu Williamson are all struggling because of injury.

In the second division, Tow Law, who are five points clear at the top, are at Ryton and Crawcrook and include new signings John Hirst from Jarrow and David Mitchell from Darlington RA. Adam Nicholls and Matty Smith are also added to the squad.

Northallerton, who dropped to third in midweek because of their defeat at Heaton Stannington, face Alnwick again after beating them in the Vase last Saturday, and they hope to include a new signing, while Sam Grainger returns after suspension.

Crook Town, who are in eighth place, are at Blyth, who are on the same points as them. Manager Wilf Constantine said; “We had a good win at first division Washington in midweek, so we go to Blyth in a good position and playing well.” Ryan Braithwaite and Dale Elgie both return, but Ethan Payne is unavailable.

Second bottom Darlington RA are without several players for their away game at bottom club West Allotment, who are just gone point behind them. Manager Peter Mulcaster said; “We’re struggling for a team, as eight players are unavailable, so we’re signing some 16 year olds to fill in.”

Willington, who have won their last three matches in league and cup, are at home to league newcomers Jarrow, and Lewis Milner is unavailable, but striker Connor Lowes returns.

Willington manager Rob Lee said: “This will be a hard game against a team in form, but we’re pleased with our last three performances.”

Willington are currently fifth bottom, while Jarrow are sixth from top.

Chester-le-Street take on Thornaby at Chester Moor, and they will be without injured midfielder Craig Marron and suspended defender Chris Stephenson.

Chester manager Colin Wake said; “It’s a very important game to try and match the result with the improved performances that we have been putting in of late.”

Brandon have a tough home game against Hebburn, who are fourth in the table, and they have eight players missing for various reasons, so they hope to include some new signings.

In the other game, Esh Winning are at Billingham Town.