Newton Aycliffe welcome local rivals Darlington for a first-ever competitive match at Moore Lane Park this weekend.
The Quakers make the short trip for the third time in three years, but this will be the first encounter with points to play for.
The former Football League outfit were demoted down to the Northern League in the summer, and were forced to change their playing name to Darlington 1883 by the Football Association.
Supporters rallied and have re-built a club searching to climb back up the pyramid system.
Martin Gray’s side are currently leading the first division, but second placed Spennymoor are four points behind with three games in hand. With the two clubs set to meet before Christmas, Darlo can ill-afford a slip up at Moore Lane.
But Allan Oliver’s side will not roll over for their opponents. In the meeting at Heritage Park earlier in the campaign, the Newtonians were very unfortunate not to come away with a point, but a late David Dowson goal secured a hard-fought 1-0 win for Darlington.
Back then, Aycliffe were adrift at the bottom of the table, with just one win all season. Now, they go into the game on the back of three wins in their last six, including a 2-1 defeat of West Auckland, one of only two teams to beat Darlington this season.
The Royal Blues are two points ahead of third-bottom Penrith, and face a double header with the Cumbrians in the next two weeks.
Those games – followed by a home clash with South Shields – will likely have a huge bearing on the club’s campaign. But a good showing against the Quakers – in front of a record league crowd at Moore Lane Park – will boost the club’s morale following the 5-1 defeat at Guisborough.
Aycliffe will face the league leaders without top-scorer Fred Woodhouse, who serves a one-match ban. He was originally due to miss the Durham game, but last Saturday’s postponement has means he will sit out against the Quakers.
Mark Wood is out with a broken foot, while fellow defender Mark Peck has a hand injury.
John Close is battling to be fit following a quad injury, while Danny Earl is expected to recover from an ankle knock.
The game kicks off at 3pm at Moore Lane Park, with tickets priced £5 adults and £3 concessions. A large crowd is expected, and those who have not already bought tickets are advised to arrive early to avoid big queues.