Tow Law joint manager Geoff Young is fulll of praise for his players after avoiding relegation with a good run of results of late.

Young, together with Brian Fowler, took over a month ago and since then have lifted Lawyers away from the relegation zone.

"We've done well considering that we've picked up seven points out of 12 against teams like Shildon and Jarrow Roofing.

"We couldn't have asked for a better response from the players, who have worked very hard since we took over. We wanted them to enjoy their football, and that's what they've done.

"We must start getting ready now for next season. We want to build a team which is good enough to challenge for a top six place."

Consett manager Ray Lish locked his players in their changing room for 20 minutes after losing 2-0 at home by Kennek Ryhope Ca last Saturday.

The Second Division promotion hopefuls have picked up just two points out of a possible 15 in recent weeks, and Lish said: "We're just not firing at all at the moment.

"I asked the players what was going wrong. They're all giving 100 per cent, but we don't have that extra spark which we've had this season.

"We haven't changed anything. Our preparations are still the same, but I don't know whether it's about confidence or not.

"We've turned from potential champions into fighting for third place.

"We still need at least one more win for promotion."

Consett could be overtaken for runners-up spot by Newcastle Benfield Saints, while Washington Nissan could still catch them if they win their last four matches.

Shotton manager Vince Kirkup still hasn't given up hope of the club avoiding relegation.

A 2-2 draw against Crook at the weekend sentenced the troubled club to a bottom two position, which under normal circumstances would mean relegation to one of the feeder leagues, probably the Wearside League.

But Kirkup is still hopeful. "I know it's a forlorn hope, but if we can finish second bottom, then, with the mechanisations of the pyramid, we might not be relegated.

"One of the teams which hope to come up might not reach Northern League standard."

Shotton submitted their resignation last month, but that might now be rescinded.

"We're hoping the club will keep going beyond the end of the season," said Kirkup. "We had a constructive meeting last week to talk about one or two things, and we're all optimistic. But going out of the Northern League would be a big blow.''

League officials won't reveal the results of their ground grading inspections until later in the month.

North Shields officials announced they have received a letter from the league saying their inspection had gone well, but the league management committee won't disclose the results of all their inspections until they have completed them all.

Shields have a good chance of winning the Wearside League and returning to the Northern League after a 15-year absence, while West Allotment are now looking good to win the Northern Alliance.

Should both grounds be up to Northern League standard and they finish in a promotion position, they will be promoted at the end of the season and Shotton and one other club will be relegated from the Northern League.

The league also inspected Ryton a fortnight ago, and they are now midway through inspections of all Second Division grounds.

Crook were delighted with teenage brothers Anthony and Mark Ross last Saturday.

They played in the 2-2 draw at Shotton and each scored. Anthony, 16, scored the first goal, and brother Mark, 17, got the second.

Consett midfielder Peter Kirkham has had his suspension for his dismissal at South Shields two months ago reduced from five weeks to two.

Consett claimed mistaken identity when Kirkham was sent off for swearing, saying that it was a South Shields player who swore at the assistant referee.

"In our eyes, Peter won his appeal, so it was worthwhile doing," said Consett boss Ray Lish.

Shildon are going to name one of their stands in the memory of full-back Lee Hainsworth, who was tragically killed in a road accident earlier in the year. The club is also going to provide two trophies for their pre-season friendlies against Newcastle Utd and Notts County.

Jarrow Roofing have placed defenders John Bendelow and Chris Leonard on the transfer list at their own request.

Durham City supporters club are holding an end of season meeting on Sunday, April 25 in the Sammy Crooks bar, beginning at 8pm.

Billingham Synthonia's new signing, John Alexander from Darlington, will be eligible to play in the League Cup semi-final against Durham City next Tuesday. Alexander has been part of the Darlington first team squad, and scored on his debut for Synners last Saturday at Dunston. Another Synners' striker, Lee Flanagan, will be out for the rest of the season with a hernia problem.

The captain's armband has been a curse for the skippers of Kennek Ryhope CA. Wayne Henderson, David Christie and Chris Davidson have all been injured for long spells this season.

Ryhope are on course for their best finish in several seasons after their win over second-placed Consett last season put them into seventh place in the table with four games left.

Northallerton have signed former Scarborough defender Shaun Rennison. The centre-half was on a professional contract at the McCain Stadium, but had to quit because of a knee injury. He recently contacted Northallerton and offered his services, and manager Paul Burton said: "We're going to give him a couple of games to see how it goes. Under the terms of his settlement, he's allowed to play at our level."

The game between Consett and Norton, which had been switched to Wednesday, April 28, has now been changed back to its original date of Saturday, May 1.

Billingham Town have re-arranged their league game with Chester-le-Street for Friday, April 30 because of the County Youth FA Cup final the following day. Dunston are hoping to bring forward their game at Horden from May 1 to the previous midweek.

fixtures: TONIGHT: Division One: Bedlington v Durham City

TOMORROW: Division One: Billingham Synthonia v Thornaby, Billingham Town v Washington, Guisborough v Morpeth, Horden v Marske, Jarrow Roofing v Dunston, Peterlee v Esh Winning, Shildon v Chester-le-Street, Tow Law v Brandon.

Division Two: Easington v Kennek Ryhope CA, Hebburn v Newcastle Benfield Saints, Newcastle Blue Star v Evenwood, Northallerton v Willington, Seaham Red Star v Norton, Shotton v Consett, South Shields v Murton, Washington Nissan v Prudhoe, Whickham v Ashington.