Crook Town need the points at West Allotment on Saturday to avoid getting sucked into the Second Division relegation fight.

Crook are currently fifth bottom of the table, eight points above the bottom two, but it is by no means clear how many clubs will be relegated at the end of the season in the looming FA reshuffle.

The governing body hasn’t made clear exactly what plans it has for the Northern League, and that has led to speculation that up to five clubs might be relegated from the second division, but that it is just one of several different variants affecting the composition of the league, which will see enforced promotion and possible lateral movement at the end of the season.

Despite all the recent bad weather, today’s game is certain to go ahead, as Allotment play on a 3G pitch close to Newcastle Airport, the game having been switched from a flooded Millfield.

Like many other teams, Crook have only played once since February, and manager Chris Lax said; “It’s vital that we get a result and climb the table.”

New signings Peter Brown and Alex Wilson both come into the squad, while defenders Joe Spooner and Daniel Johnston and forward Adam Lee-Shields are all unavailable.

Crook have twelve games left, but that figure isn’t the highest in the division. Bedlington have 13, while in the first division, Marske have 15, and with more games likely to be called off today because of waterlogged pitches, then the league is crossing its fingers that the FA will extend the season past 5th May.

In the first division, Bishop Auckland have a big home game against fifth placed North Shields, and they will still be without injured striker Andy Johnson, who is due to have a scan on his ankle soon, but otherwise manager Colin Myers will choose from a full strength squad.

Bishops have lost their last four league games, leaving them three points above third bottom Jarrow Roofing, and they could do with a favour from their neighbours West Auckland, who play them away from home today.

West lost badly at home to Sunderland RCA last week to leave them in fourth place, and manager Gary Forrest said; “The lads need to how more desire than they did last week.”

Forrest will choose from a full squad as West look for their eleventh away win of the season. Roofing could include former West players John Campbell and Dennis knight.

Shildon, who are in sixth place, are at home to Durham Challenge Cup finalists Consett, and they expect to be at full strength, except for suspended defender Jamie Harwood.

Newton Aycliffe are at bottom club Billingham Synthonia, and the enforced break has given several players some extra time to recover from injuries.

Manager Deano Browne said; “It’s a big game for me personally, because I’m playing against a lot of close friends and against a club that plays on a ground where I used to manage for Norton, my first managerial experience.”

Synners are currently bottom of the table, and have won only once at home this season.

In the other first division games, second placed Marske, who are giving chase to league leaders Morpeth, are at Whitley Bay, while Vase finalists Stockton Town are at Team Northumbria. Morpeth are at home to Guisborough.

In the second division, Northallerton, who are third, have a tough home game against Heaton Stannington, and they welcome back midfielder Chris Emms and defender Mattie Crossen to their squad.

Tow Law need to win their local derby against Esh Winning to stay in touch with the leading group, although the game is in serious doubt because of waterlogging.

Esh will have Nick Marley, Mark Fish, Callum Boakes and Matty Allison missing but should have Scott Arnott and Chris Mordue returning. Manager Tony Boakes said; “We will have to be on top form this weekend against a very good side who are still looking for a promotion spot.”

Brandon, who are second bottom, need the points at home to Chester-le-Street and manager Steve Skinner will choose from a full squad of 15 players.

Skinner said; “Saturday’s game will be a like a cup final and a must-win game. We need as many points as possible, even more so because no one knows what is happening with the league.”

Chester-le-Street manager Colin Wake, who also chooses from a full squad, said; “Brandon are scrapping for their lives and have brought in quite a few first division players who should help with their situation, so we are expecting a real battle. It won’t be one for the footballing purists but should be a well contested Northern League game of football.”

Darlington RA, who are third bottom, have another big home game at Brinkburn Road, against Ryton and Crawcrook.

Keeper Phil Pentony and outfield players Jordan Hanratty and Andrew Lonsdale are all ruled out for the season with injury,and assistant manager Mike Colman said; “We’re looking to continue our form and beat the weather as well as Ryton.”

The RA are currently five points above bottom club Alnwick, who are at Willington, whose manager Rob Lee hopes that several players will return to the squad for their run in. “We have nine games in 21 days. Surely the FA have to extend the season, these are working lads.”

Durham City are at home to promotion chasing Thornaby, depending on the state of the Hall Lane pitch.