northern league

North Shields will be the happiest team in the Northern League heading towards Christmas – they sit top and eight points clear of rivals South Shields in second.

The Robins have enjoyed a fantastic first half of the season seeing them start the season 17 games unbeaten and a 1-0 win over their rivals.

However they will still be looking over their shoulders as many teams below have a lot of games in hand over them meaning they could easily see their eight point lead slip with a few bad results.

One of the teams looking to capitalise on games in hand is of course South Shields who have just signed full back Alex Nicholson from Blyth Spartans, stating their intentions for the second half of the season.

The Mariners have also enjoyed a fantastic start to the season only losing twice in 25 games with one being that derby defeat.

With only Bishop Auckland and South Shields applying for promotion to the next step the race to finish in the top three is well and truly on.

Bishop have fallen short on a few occasions this season losing a few key games to teams such as Marske and South Shields.

Despite all this however striker Andrew Johnson has been in scintillating form scoring 31 (21 league) goals in 32 appearances in all competitions making him third top scorer behind John Campbell (22 goals) of Newton Aycliffe and Paul Brayson (25 goals) of Newcastle Benfield.

Last seasons champions Shildon and FA Vase winners Morpeth will be looking to make some ground up on the top of the league despite being heavily involved in cup competitions they are both in position to catch up to the top of the table.

Consett are another team that have found themselves in the mix after enjoying a fantastic home record and taking points from their last nine games.

Around the middle of the table teams such as Newton Aycliffe sit on a mixed bag of results, however recent events at Aycliffe saw them sack boss Peter Dixon and a few players following an incident in an FA Vase game.

A club statement said: “The decision was made by the club, due to the ongoing ill-discipline shown by some of the players.”

New managers Deano Browne and Danny Mellanby will be looking to turn around this misfortune and build a strong team.

Down at the lower end of the table the three relegation spots are occupied by Guisborough Town, West Allotment Celtic and Chester-Le-Street in that order.

All three teams seemingly with a lot of work to do as they sit way Jarrow Roofing in 19th and it didn’t help that Guisborough had a three point deduction for fielding an ineligible player.

All 22 teams will head into the busy Christmas period hoping to beat the weather and pick up some positive results.