LEADERS Consett have a tough home game against third-placed Sunderland Nissan at Belle Vue, writes RAY SIMPSON.

Consett, who beat Nissan 3-1 in the reverse fixture last month, are without injured defender Mark Gaffney, while midfielder Mark Patterson is quitting the club because he is emigrating to the USA.

Nissan, who put six past Penrith last Saturday, expect to complete the signing of defender Brian Fairhurst, who has quit West Auckland as a player as well as manager, while striker Richard Hodgson should return.

Spennymoor Town, unbeaten in the league since October, face Tow Law at the Brewery Field with one eye on their FA Vase tie next week.

Defender Carl Beasley is injured, while Gareth Waite could be missing. Lawyers are without Scott Nicholson, but Lewis Teasdale returns after a four-month suspension.

Two teams going well, Dunston and Shildon, meet at Federation Park.

Dunston, who haven’t lost since September, will be without injured pair Jack Burns and Mark Obern, while Shildon, who have lost only once in their last 17, should give full debuts to Mark Tinkler and Phil Brumwell. Defender Wayne Clarke is missing. Shildon have denied that they have applied to join the UniBond League.

Bottom club Bishop Auckland have snapped up defender Lewis Hardman following his release from Darlington, and he is in the team at Penrith. He has already had a loan spell at Bishops, who haven’t won in ten.

West Auckland start life under the new managerial team of Ray Gowan, Lee Ellison and Paul Aldsworth at home to Seaham Red Star, and they include new keeper Dave Whittlestone and striker Paul Bailes.

Seaham, who climbed out of the bottom three last week, are without Paul Griffiths, Brian Linighan and Paul Davison.

Manager Andy Toman has signed striker Jonny French from West.

Northallerton, now under the sole charge of Martyn Speight following the resignation of joint manager Stuart Dawson, are at Morpeth. They welcome back striker Carl Chillingsworth and defender Stuart Jackson after suspension, while they have signed striker Ross Hodgson from Godalming. Speight has added striker Neil Campbell, from Stokesley, to his coaching staff.

Billingham Town, whose six-game winning run came to an end last Saturday, visit bottom club South Shields, and manager Peter Mulcaster is likely to make changes.

Billingham Synthonia could go fifth if they win at Bedlington, and manager Chris Rooney is missing only Nathan Jameson, who is injured for the rest of the season. .

Whitley Bay, who are in fifth after a run of just one defeat in six games, are without David Coulson and Darren Timmons for their home game with Chesterle- Street.

Ryton have lost the league’s top scorer, Marc Walton, to Blyth, so he misses the home game with West Allotment.

Keeper Ben Starford is injured, so Jonathan Hands replaces him.

Allotment are without their top scorer, Keith Douglas, because of injury.

In the second division, leaders Esh Winning play Crook, and will be without suspended striker Tony Hanson. Crook, who are seventh, have injury doubts over Andrew Green and Graham McTaggart.

Norton, who are second, also have a local derby at Thornaby, and will probably be at full strength. Second bottom Thornaby have signed former Norton forward Chris Garbutt and former Boro defender Nicky Mohan.

Horden, who are five points behind Norton, include new keeper Marc Riches in their squad at home to Brandon, but they are still missing six players for various reasons.

Brandon, who have started to climb the table in recent weeks, will give keeper John Joyce a fitness test.

Marske, who are unbeaten in the league for 13 matches, are at home to Sunderland RCA, and will be close to full strength. The RCA, who were one of the pre-season promotion favourites, are in mid-table instead and include new midfielder David Henderson, signed from Tow Law, but striker Andy Jennings is unavailable.

Third bottom Darlington RA have a tough game at Birtley, and will be without keeper Simon Clarke and midfielder Lee Johnston.

Birtley welcome back striker Owen Peterson, while manager Dave Smith will make changes following last week’s thumping at Guisborough.

Stokesley need to beat Jarrow Roofing to stay in touch with the promotion race, and manager Ted Watts chooses from sixteen players. Roofing are without Kevin Davison and former Hartlepool striker Eifion Williams.

Guisborough’s trip to Whitehaven was yesterday frozen off.

Whickham are without injured striker Ian Robson for their trip to North Shields, while Hebburn welcome back defender Daniel Gray after suspension at home to Team Northumbria.