Darlington have lost only once in their last seven league games and have become hard to beat following an indifferent start to the season.

They are just 29 points above the relegation trapdoor and with the table so tightly knit, any one of seven clubs could be relegated.

They make one change as they welcome another team struggling near the bottom, in Middlesbrough, to South Terrace. Peter Greenwell is not available, replaced by Lee Hutton.

Boro are just 25 points ahead of Bishop Auckland and 35 points in front of Marske, the two teams in the bottom two at present and skipper Leigh Beaumont said: “We have had two disappointing defeats recently, to Marton and Hartlepool.

“We dropped crucial catches, and they were against the English professionals. Small margins can make a big difference, as we lost both games by 20 runs.’’

Richard Knaggs is out, and Jake Whittle returns after a jaw operation. Adil Ditta drops down to captain the seconds and Alfie Taylor-Clarke replaces him.

Marton have the same points as Boro and they entertain Stokesley, skipper Alex Wardell said: “Our draw at Richmondshire last weekend gave us a good start to the second half of the season and will hopefully offer some momentum to the team. We have one change with Danny Kitching back to strengthen the batting.”

Stokesley secretary Mark Smith said: “We were slightly disappointed that we didn’t overcome the target at Thornaby, last Saturday. We had a good bowling performance from Aussie Dan Chillingworth, who claimed four wickets, but we fell short of the target.”

Marske are bottom and take on Thornaby. Skipper Chris Veazey said: “We need a massive turnaround in form if we are to stay in the Premier League, we have simply not been anywhere near good enough.”

At the top, Barnard Castle lead the way on games won and they travel to struggling Bishop Auckland.

Barney make four changes, with Phil Merryweather, Rob Dixon and Richy Watson, coming back into the side. Opener James Alderson is unavailable, so Mike Dixon stands in.

Bishops are 25 points adrift of the safety line and skipper Scott Oldfield said: “We welcome back Chris Sawyer from holiday and if we keep showing the recent signs of improvement, I am hopeful of a positive result. Our bowling and fielding has been exceptional, we just need to add a little bit of grit to our batting and I'm sure we can come good soon.”

Great Ayton are second and level on points with Barnard Castle and they travel to Hornby Park to take on Seaton Carew, who won last week at Marske, to move them up to sixth. But they are still only 37 points from safety, proving how tight it is at the bottom.

Seaton have Stuart Lobb and Jack Turnbull back to bolster the team with Danny Thomas missing.

Great Ayton skipper Jon Grainge is absent along with David Grainge, so Tom Leng and Henry Shelton start.

Richmondshire,, in third, travel to Park Drive to take on Hartlepool and skipper Gary Pratt said: “We are unchanged from last Sunday and it should be a decent wicket and we are looking forward to the game.”

Hartlepool secretary Michael Gough snr said: “We make two changes, Jack Wilkinson and George Relton return. Last weekend we had a great win mainly due to an inspired century by James Lowe, against his former club Middlesbrough. That’s two wins from three games, but we face a very difficult game.

“Richmondshire are doing a marvellous job for our league in knocking out many established teams throughout the Northern Leagues, in the one-day knockout National competition.”