West Auckland manager David Bayles believes his team hasn't turned bad overnight, writes Ray Simpson.

West, who are at Horden today, lost against ten men at second division Whickham in the semi-final of the Durham Challenge Cup in midweek, and Bayles said: "I don't know whether it was complacency or not, but this is the same bunch of lads who had won the previous seven matches.

"Maybe we were destined not to win the cup but we must pull ourselves together."

Darren Kokes, who was cup-tied in midweek, will return.

Horden have a doubt over midfielder Jason Ainsley, while Anthony Dobell, Martin O'Riordan and Stephen Bell are injured.

With leaders Newcastle Blue Star almost out of sight, the race for second is between Bedlington and Billingham Synthonia, who meet at Welfare Park.

Billingham Town can still catch the top two, and they're at home to Chester-le-Street. Defenders Andy Burton and David Able are injured. Chester will give defender Elliott Milburn a fitness test, Paul Richardson is injured.

Fourth-bottom Shildon, who are unbeaten in five, are at Whitley Bay and welcome back midfielder Neal Bartlett and defender Tom Ptak, while Whitley are hoping to sign former Darlington striker Mark Sheeran.

Durham City go to third bottom Ashington, missing only Micky Gough.

Troubled Thornaby, who haven't won in seven matches, are at home to Morpeth and have several players missing but defender Andy Harbron and striker Steve Larkin return.

Dunston are at home to Sunderland Nissan, who are now in the top half of the table after a run of seven unbeaten games, the last five without conceding a goal.

In the second division, South Shields have appointed former Durham and Newcastle Blue Star striker Micky Taylor as manager but they don't play today because the league has agreed to their home game with Washington being postponed.

Consett face the biggest test yet to their season-long unbeaten record when second-placed Northallerton arrive at Belle Vue. Defender David Johnson returns after injury. Northallerton have signed striker Peter Boldison from Marske but are missing Ross Diamond and David Goodchild.

Darlington RA, who are third, go to Ryton and have doubts over Chris Creamer and Dave Alderson.

Spennymoor, who are in sixth place, must win their home game with Prudhoe to stay in the running for promotion, and they are missing midfielder Dion Raitt because of suspension.

Norton are at Alnwick, boosted by the returns of Marcus Laing and Darryl Tomlinson.

Guisborough can take a big step away from the relegation zone if they win at bottom club Peterlee.

Marske include new signings Adam McMahon from Billingham Synthonia and Tom Jones from Billingham Town at home to Kennek Ryhope CA.