WITH just two weeks to go to the end of the season, three teams are still in with a chance of clinching the Northern League championship – and Whitley Bay are one of those three.
A dramatic climax is in prospect with Whitley set to face their two main rivals in the last games of the season.
Strong favourites for the title are defending champions Spennymoor Town, but Bay’s amazing run of 20 wins from their last 21 games has seen them emerge as the chief rivals after Newcastle Benfield went down 3-0 at home to Spennymoor last weekend.
Following Tuesday evening’s game at Hillheads against South Shields – Whitley’s last home game of the season – they complete their programme with five away games, starting at relegation threatened West Allotment Celtic on Good Friday, kick-off midday.
Ironically, it could be in Allotment’s interests if Whitley win, as their best chance of surviving the drop to second division could be if Whitley finish in the top two and take promotion.
The knock on effect of which would be that only two sides, Ryton and Esh Winning, would be relegated from the Northern League first division.
Whitley visit another of the strugglers, Jarrow Roofing, on Easter Monday, when there is a 1pm kick-off.
Manager Ian Chandler’s team then travel to Teesside on the Wednesday evening to play Billingham Town before preparing for two titanic battles over the May Day Holiday weekend.
Saturday, April 30, sees Whitley at the Brewery Field to take on Spennymoor Town in a game that may decide the title, while less than 48 hours later, runners-up spot may be the prize for the winners as the league season ends with a local derby at Newcastle Benfield on Monday, May 2.
Kick-off for this game is 11am, the same time as another potentially crucial game when Spennymoor play their final game at Bedlington Terriers.
With such a hectic end to the league campaign, Whitley will be making full use of their squad to keep players fresh and reduce the risk of injuries.
The deadline has passed for suspensions to affect the FA Vase final squad and players will now be concentrating on good performances and earning a place in the starting line-up at Wembley on May 8.