Glen Robertson previews Newton Aycliffe’s trip to Billingham Synthonia this weekend…
Newton Aycliffe’s battle for survival continues this weekend as the Royal Blues travel to face Billingham Synthonia.
Synthonia’s cross-town rivals and third bottom Billingham Town are now just two points behind the Newtonians in the Northern League first division table.
Allan Oliver’s side have 11 games left to ensure they will begin the 2013/14 campaign still playing in the top tier of the world’s second oldest league.
Aycliffe are without a win in their last four outings, while Town recorded back-to-back victories over Guisborough and Penrith to reduce the gap at the bottom.
Saturday’s Synthonia are unbeaten in their last seven games in all competitions, lie in ninth place in the table and are behind only Darlington and Spennymoor in the league’s current form standings.
Former Newtonian Nathan Wilson is expected to line up in the Synners midfield, while Aycliffe striker Danny Earl will look for his 17th goal of the season against his former club.
Earl ended the club’s top-scorer twice and bagged a hat-trick against Aycliffe in the club’s first-ever FA Cup match in 2011. A repeat of the feat against his old club would go a long way to securing the Royal Blues’ first division status.
Aycliffe are without defender Darren Craddock for the contest, as he serves his one-match ban after being sent-off against Billingham Town.
James Oliver could partner John Close in defence, with Josh Knox and Tom Hinchley – who headed a dramatic stoppage-time leveller when the club’s met in October – further options for manager Oliver. Midfielder Paul Broom will make his 150th club appearance if he plays in the fixture.
A win could be required to keep the club out of the bottom three, with Town (33 points to Aycliffe’s 35) favourites to beat South Shields in their game. Elsewhere at the bottom, Newcastle Benfield (37pts) travel to Consett, Penrith (37pts) host Ashington, Sunderland RCA (38pts) welcome Celtic Nation and Marske (38pts) make the trip to Dunston.
After Aycliffe’s game at Central Avenue, they will have 10 matches left to play with nine of them taking place at Moore Lane Park.
Under-16s go free for all home matches, with admission £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.