NORTHALLERTON are hoping for three crucial promotion points when they take on second placed Thornaby in the ENL Second Division at Ainderby Road on Saturday.

Northallerton are currently in fourth place in the table, nine points behind their opponents with two games in hand. They played each other in the Ernest Armstrong Trophy in midweek, Northallerton coming out on top in a penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw in normal time.

Manager Darren Trotter, who chooses from a full squad, said; “It’s always difficult playing a team that you have just played three days before, but we go into the game with confidence having reached our third final in four years.”

Northallerton have only lost twice at home this season, while Thornaby have won out eight of their thirteen league games.

In the first division, Newton Aycliffe’s new manager Colin Stromsoy takes charge of his first home game when they face Sunderland RCA at Moore Lane.

Stromsoy took over a fortnight ago and immediately led his new team to a 1-0 win at West Auckland, and he includes new right back Connor Phelan.

Shildon, who have lost only once in their last four league games, are at home to Guisborough, and will definitely be missing defender Dale Mulligan because of injury, while striker Billy Greulich-Smith, midfielder David Palmer and player-manager Danny Moore are all struggling with injuries.

Shildon won the reverse fixture by 4-1 earlier in the season, with Jack Blackford, who is now at Marske, scoring a hat trick.

Bishop Auckland are without a game as they were due to play Hebburn, who are now in FA Vase action against West Auckland. Their two title rivals, Dunston UTS and Consett are both playing. Dunston are at home to bottom club Penrith, while Consett are at Seaham Red Star.

In the other second division games, Willington need to win at Ryton and Crawcrook to keep their slim hopes alive – they are currently ten points behind Northallerton.

Graham Lazonby and Scott Oldfield return to the squad after injury, but Lewis Graham is still missing.

Manager Rob Lee said; “Ryton are a strong team at home, and it should be a close game. We must pick ourselves up from our last two games, and I am sure that we will.”

Bottom club Durham City desperately need to win at home to sixth placed Jarrow. Manager Billy Harper said; “We’re still struggling with injuries, but we’re confident that the last couple of performances we’ve delivered will eventually gain some much-needed points.”

City have won just twice this season, and are seven points behind second bottom Brandon, who are at home to Easington.

In the other games, league leaders Billingham Town look for unbeaten game number 28 away to West Allotment.

Newcastle Benfield manager Tom Wade has left after three months in charge of the club by mutual consent. Veteran striker Paul Brayson has taken over as caretaker.