Glen Robertson previews Aycliffe’s huge trip to Billingham Town this Saturday…
Newton Aycliffe can take a giant step towards safety as they travel to Billingham Town at the weekend.
The Royal Blues moved 10 points clear of their opponents, who occupy the final relegation spot heading into the fixture, thanks to Wednesday night’s goalless draw at Bedlington.
A win for Aycliffe would create a sizable gap to those scrapping to stay up, but a defeat could put the Newtonians right back into the basement-battle.
And Allan Oliver will not struggle for motivation material ahead of the game, after Town handed Aycliffe a mauling earlier on in the campaign.
When the two sides met at Moore Lane Park in September they were both propping up the table and what followed was arguably the worst performance in Aycliffe’s history.
Jamie Owens – who has since moved on to Shildon – struck a hat-trick in an 8-0 thrashing.
Since then the two clubs’ fortunes have differed. Aycliffe have won nine times to move clear of the drop zone, while Town remain in the bottom three after adding just another three successes to their record, with their win at MLP remaining their only away victory of the campaign.
Carl Jarrett’s side have won one of their last six outings – a 4-0 thrashing of Team Northumbria – and have been leaking goals in their defeats. Durham and Whitley Bay both put six past them, while Ashington, West Auckland and Marske all grabbed four.
They have the leakiest defence in the league, with 94 goals conceded in their 32 games.
Scott Pocklington and Darren Craddock are expected to return for Aycliffe after missing the midweek trip to Bedlington. Danny Earl, Tom Hinchley, Martin Young and Kris Hughes are all pushing to be restored to the starting line-up, showcasing the strength-in-depth the Newtonians currently enjoy.
The game kicks-off at 3pm at Bedford Terrace TS23 4AF