Newton Aycliffe welcome Durham City to Moore Lane Park for the first-ever time at the weekend, and the game could hardly be more vital.
Both clubs are struggling near the bottom of the table but a win would give either side some breathing space as the season nears the half way mark.
The Newtonians are just one point above third-bottom Norton & Stockton Ancients, while Durham are only two points ahead of the Royal Blues.
Saturday’s losers will be nervously peering over their shoulders ahead of the hectic Christmas schedule.
Durham were placed in the Northern League in the summer, after taking voluntary relegation from the Evo-Stik. But the Citizens lost a number of players to Darlington and have struggled so far this campaign.
David Dowson, Gary Brown, the Purewal twins – Arjun and Amar – and Steve Thompson have all left New Ferens Park for Martin Gray’s promotion-chasing side.
Aycliffe fans know all about Thompson, after he netted against Aycliffe during the disappointing 5-2 defeat away at Durham earlier this campaign, days before he left the club.
That defeat was described by Aycliffe skipper Sean Tarling as the club’s worst display of the season in his programme column, and the club are desperate to set the record straight this weekend.
But Durham remain a tough side to beat when they’re on form. Adam Furness’ side ran unbeaten Spennymoor incredibly close last weekend, as they celebrated their 2,000th Northern League fixture, but fell to a 3-2 defeat.
However, they are the only club not to have won on their travels this season. From 10 away games in Division One, Durham have lost seven and drawn three.
Aycliffe will welcome back last season’s player of the year Darren Craddock for the game, after the defender missed the 5-1 defeat at Guisborough last weekend through suspension.
But striker Fred Woodhouse – who has scored give goals in the last three games – misses out as he serves a one-match ban after picking up five yellow cards this season.
Fellow frontman Danny Earl is racing to overcome an ankle knock to lead the line, John Close is hoping to overcome his quad problem but Mark Peck is out with a hand injury and Mark Wood is sidelined until the New Year with a broken ankle.
The game kicks off at Moore Lane Park at 3pm. Admission is £5 for adults and £3 concessions.