FeaturedFootballLocal sportNorthern League

Predicting the Northern League Division One and Two play-offs

The Northern League play-offs are due to take place over the next week, with the Division One final set for Monday, May 6 and Division Two on Wednesday, May 8.

After an unprecedented season hampered with poor weather and a season extension, we are now at the business end. The second oldest football league in the world is still producing top quality football and entertainment.

Bishop Auckland secured their title win at the weekend with a huge 100 points tally. They will be playing in the Northern Premier League Division One East next season.

In Division Two, Blyth Town won the league with a huge 101 points tally.

Here we will predict both leagues’ play-offs.

Division Two

Newcastle Blue Star v Horden CWFC

Newcastle Blue Star host Horden CWFC in the first semi final on Friday night.

Blue Star were at one stage favourites to win the league, but a tail off in the final few months of the campaign saw Blyth Town storm away with it.

They are undoubtedly the favourites for promotion here and whilst Horden are on solid form, they will need to produce something quite remarkable to progress here. However, over the two games this season Blue Star were unable to blow Horden away and I expect another narrow win here.

Score prediction: Newcastle Blue Star 2-1 Horden CWFC

Easington Colliery v Bedlington Terriers

Easington Colliery have a very strong squad and one that is performing incredibly well as of late. For me, they are the favourites here, but Bedlington Terriers have done the double over them this season and that will breed confidence going into this one.

Bedlington do have a game on Monday 29th and Wednesday 1st before Saturday’s semi final and whilst I’m sure they’ll rotate to keep fresh, this is a hindrance they don’t need.

Score prediction: Easington Colliery 1-1 Bedlington Terriers (Easington to progress on penalties).

Newcastle Blue Star v Easington Colliery

This will be a great game of football with both teams sure to leave it all out on the pitch.

Blue Star again would be the favorites, but with players like Mark Davison and Matty Weirs, Easington do have match winners.

Easington beat Blue Star 5-0 away from home earlier this season and Blue Star returned the favour winning 3-0 in the reverse fixture.

I don’t see this one being as open as those, but I do see a home win.

Score prediction: Newcastle Blue Star 2-0 Easington Colliery

Division One

Shildon v West Auckland

For me, this could easily be the final. Shildon ran Bishop to the end in the title race and in another world they would’ve been the ones to lift the trophy.

West Auckland have been on a great run of form and are now ten games unbeaten, including winning the Durham Challenge Cup at the Stadium of Light last week.

This is a tough one to call, and whilst I think it’s harsh that both teams meet this early, I can see Shildon just getting over the line.

Score prediction: Shildon 1-0 West Auckland

Heaton Stannington v Birtley Town

These are two very different sides.

Heaton Stan will bring a much more direct approach to the game, whilst Birtley will prefer the game played on the floor.

Birtley’s managers Paul Foster and Paul Bryson announced last week they’d step away at the end of the season and after having built the club up from the bottom, a promotion would be a fitting way to end. Unfortunately though, I just think Heaton Stan’s approach will be exactly what is needed to reach the final.

Score prediction: Heaton Stannington 2-1 Birtley Town

Shildon v Heaton Stannington

Both teams have one win over the other this season and again this final would promise to be a very entertaining clash.

Shildon would be seen as the better side no doubt, but Heaton Stan cannot and shouldn’t be written off with them proving this season they can challenge the best in the league being one of just two sides to beat Bishop Auckland this season, ironically the other, Shildon.

This could go either way, but I can see a return to the Northern Premier League Division One East for Shildon.

Score prediction: Shildon 2-1 Heaton Stannington