Hebburn Town face a massive task when they travel to promotion-chasing Chester-le-Street tomorrow.
Scott Oliver’s men could do their neighbours South Shields a favour by halting the Cestrians’ charge, but helping the Mariners is the last thing on the Hornets’ minds as they look to get their own season on track.
Oliver has a strong squad to choose from, but is limited in his striker options with skipper Channon North a doubt and Shaun Reay having left the club.
However, the Hebburn boss has been buoyed by the performance last weekend against another team near the top of Northern League Division Two, Team Northumbria, which saw them come back from 3-0 down to grab a point in a dramatic last 20 minutes.
Oliver said: “Last Saturday showed the spirit in the squad.
“To come back against the form team in the league to get a point from three down with 20 minutes left has lifted the team.
“The lads were much sharper last Saturday and much more focused.
“I could tell before the match that we would be at it.
“Chester are chasing promotion but we worked on a few things in training on Wednesday night which we hope will help us tomorrow.”
The Cestrians sit third in the table, having beaten second-placed Ryhope on Saturday to close the gap on leaders Shields to seven points.
In contrast, Hebburn are languising down in 16th spot, 22 points worse off than tomorrow’s opponents.
It’s been a tough season for the South Tynesiders after coming so close to promotion last campaign, with several players not hitting the heights they produced a year ago.
Oliver will now weigh up his options between now and the end of the season as he considers whether to strengthen his squad.
He added: “Brian Johnson, Shaun Reay and Adam Ingram have left the club at their own request.
“They will all get good clubs and we wish them well.
“Shaun was outstanding last season but, like us all, has struggled this season. But we all have.
“I will see how we go before I decide if I need to replace the outgoing players.”
Chris Smith and James Talbot return to the squad tomorrow but North is a doubt with a groin strain.