West Auckland manager Gary Forrest says that his team is just short of being serious title challengers – but only for the moment.

West, who are in fifth place in the table, have a tough away game today at Whitley Bay, who are two places below them in the first division.

“The players really need to understand that they are very close to being a side capable of challenging for honours,” said Forrest. “However, their own actions, focus, responsibility and desire are preventing them from fulfilling their potential.

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“We have dropped seven points because we conceded in injury time, in those four games we played for lengthy periods with ten men in three of them! Add those points to our current tally and we would be serious challengers.”

West include two new signings in their squad, former player Alex Francis and Mattie Wade, who was last at South Shields, but they have been looking for a recognised keeper, as Adam McHugh is suspended and Craig Turns is injured.

Whitley go into the game on top form, having put seven past Ryhope CW in midweek, and have yet to lose at home this season.

Bishop Auckland, who had an excellent draw last week at Morpeth, are at home to Ryhope CW, and manager Colin Myers will give a fitness test to defender Michael Hoganson, who pulled out of the Morpeth game just before kick off, and defender Mattie Lovegreen, who was injured in the first half.

Revitalised Newton Aycliffe, who have picked up seven points from the last nine, are at Consett, and they expect to choose from a full squad.

Manager Deano Browne said; “It’s another difficult game against a Consett side who have some really good players. We are confident at the moment though and we believe that we can give anybody a run for their money.”

Consett are currently seventh in the table, while Aycliffe are sixth from bottom.

In the second division, leaders Tow Law , who are unbeaten in their 13 league matches so far, are at fourth placed Whickham, and manager Steve Murray will have a full squad.

Whickham have only conceded nine goals in the league this season, five of them at home.

Third placed Northallerton are at Ryton and Crawcrook, and they are hoping that Richie Walker, Karl Hewitt and Jack Proctor will all return, but Mark Hemingway and Josh Knox are both missing.

Manager Darren Trotter said; “There are no easy games in this league and Saturday will be just as hard a game as any other we have played this season but if we play as well as we can we should have enough to win the game.”

Chester-le-Street, who are second bottom are at home to second placed Hebburn, and could be missing striker Andrew Clarkson, who scored twice in midweek. Midfielder Kieran Megran returns to the midfield, while David Surrey and Aaron Reynolds are both missing.

Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake said; “The focus is on keeping clean sheets as we have given away too many soft goals. We have a young squad who are making mistakes and being punished in the harshest way possible, and we need to get some points on the board sooner rather than later.”

Third bottom Darlington RA, who are unbeaten in their last three league games, can climb above opponents Brandon if they win their clash at Brinkburn Road, and they are boosted by the return of suspension of striker Mark Sims, as well as recent signing Phil Caley.

Crook Town face Thornaby at the Millfield, and they welcome back former Thornaby striker Michael Joseph into their squad, but Joe Spooner will have a fitness test.

Willington, who are in midtable, are at home to fourth bottom West Allotment, and manager Rob Lee will choose from a full squad.

Durham City are at sixth placed Blyth, and include keeper Dean Caris in the squad on his return to the club, but Steven Malloy, Kieran Harnett, Joe Joyce and Ross Simpson are all out because of injury.