Bishop Auckland make another attempt for second place in the EBAC Northern League when they go to Ashington on Saturday – but the pack is closing in if they slip up once again.

Bishops have lost form at exactly the wrong time with the runners up spot going begging behind leaders Dunston UTS, and they have failed to win any of their last five matches.

But manager Ian Chandler believes that his team will finally find the form that they had only two months ago, and said; “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times lately that it’s a must-win game, if we have any thoughts of finishing second. We are riddled with injuries though.”

Chandler has several players missing and takes a squad of 14 players with him.

Bishops are third in the table, a point behind Consett, but Hebburn are now just a point behind them, closely followed by Sunderland RCA and Stockton.

Shildon go to second bottom Whickham, and include new centre half Jack Vaulks, signed from Darlington, in their squad, but midfielder Ben Trotter and striker Zak Atkinson are both suspended.

League Cup finalists West Auckland take on Penrith at the Wanted Stadium, and they hope to include striker Nathan Fisher on the bench.

Manager Gary Forrest said; “It’s been the most frustrating season I have ever known. I have very rarely gone into a game without five players missing and three long term injuries.”

Defender Dan Parker is still out, but midfielder Anthony Bell started his first game in seven months in midweek after injury.

“I’ve told the players that they need to earn their place in the side for the League Cup final.”

Penrith have a better record on their travels than they have at home, having won twice.

In the second division, Willington have a tough game at home to league leaders Billingham Town.

Manager Steve Riley has brought in new signing Stuart Thompson from Newton Aycliffe and said; “I’m waiting on the availability of three players so there will be an opportunity to give other players a chance who haven’t featured in my first couple of games.”

This will be Riley’s third game in charge since he took over just before the West Allotment away game last week.

Northallerton, who are in third place, are at home to Jarrow, and will be missing Kieran McWaters because of injury. Karl Hewitt and Richie Walker are both doubtful, while Aaron Ramsbottom returns.

Crook Town are at home to bottom club Durham City. Jamie Harwood and Richie Gaston are both unavailable, but Calum Johnston and Ellis Husband both return to the squad.

Manager Jamie Tunstall said; “We’ve won just once in five games now and despite a couple of good performances we need to return to winning ways this weekend. Durham will be a fit, energetic young side and we’ll have to match their workrate of we want a result. If we play to our capabilities, then I’m confident we can get a positive result.”

Durham badly need a victory, as they are eight points adrift of the second bottom club with just seven league games remaining.

Manager Billy Harper said; “We truly believe that a very good performance can be on the cards, especially after our draw at Esh Winning in midweek. Positivity is high in our young squad.”

Tow Law, who have won five of their last six, are at Easington.

Mattie Pennal is out injured, but Adam Knowles, Nathan Convery and Josh Scott all return to the squad that beat Bedlington in midweek.

“It’s never easy to get something at Easington, but we’re unbeaten in six and only two defeats in thirteen should be a positive factor,” said manager Steve Murray.

Esh Winning, who are fourth from bottom, are at home to Billingham Synthonia.

Manager Tony Boakes said; “We’ve only lost once in our last six games, but drawn four of them, so we feel like we are missing out on points. We are looking to get another home win against a very good young side.”

Scott Arnott, Nick Marley and Stephen Fisher are all unavailable, but Reece Brown, Callum Boakes, Nathan Cobain and Matty Allison all return.

Synners are playing their second game in two days, having won 3-2 at Easington on Thursday night.

Second bottom Brandon are at home to Ryton and Crawcrook.