WHARFEDALE'S head coach James Doherty has issued a general warning to clubs placed ninth and below in National League Two North.

He said: "The top five may be done and dusted in terms of safety, but I don't think that anyone from Chester downwards can sleep easy."

Wharfedale's third win in four matches (they beat Chester 22-20 at The Avenue last weekend) has actually hauled them above a relegation place, but things are so ridiculously tight – the bottom four are separated by a mere point – that that means virtually nothing at this stage.

Luctonians, who have won only one match in their last 13, have 26 points, as do Sheffield, who have won four of their last eight.

Just a point above them are Blaydon, who have won only one of their last 10 and shipped 89 points at Stourbridge at the weekend, and Wharfedale – Saturday's opponents for Blaydon at Crow Trees.

Then come reviving Otley on 37 points (won five of their last eight), Macclesfield on 38 (won four out of five) and Sheffield Tigers on 40 (lost their last nine since winning 53-33 at Wharfedale in November).

Despite the closeness of the scoreline, Doherty has confessed that he wasn't biting his fingernails to the quick against Chester.

The visitors needed a conversion to level at 22-22 but Doherty rated James Preston's chances of landing the kick as very slim due to the fact that he was kicking into the wind from a very difficult position.

Doherty said: "I have known the wind to be stronger at The Avenue in the past, but that was the strongest it has been this season.

"But it isn't the advantage that many people think it is as kicks downfield can run dead or passes can hit fingertips and be knocked on.

"I always preferred passing into the wind as the ball is coming towards the target rather than away from it."

Both sides scored three tries, and man of the match, 17-year-old Charlie Graham, was involved in all three for the Dalesmen.

His first came from a loose pass, with the winger having the courage to run at Chester's defence and break tackles.

Doherty said: "That is what youth can bring to a team – fearlessness.

"A more experienced player might have chosen a safer option than to try and beat the initial cover after the ball went loose."

As for how Blaydon will recover from their hammering, Doherty said: "You can do one of two things.

"You either say we will learn from it or you just say 'It was a bad day at the office. Let's forget it'. I am expecting a fully focused Blaydon to face us on Saturday."

With Adam Howard unavailable, George Hedgley starts in the second row, this being the only change in the Wharfedale pack.

In the backs, former Bradford Bulls player Rhys Lovegrove returns at inside centre after missing the Chester game through a hamstring injury.

With Oli Cicognini and Charlie Graham unavailable, the backs shuffle a little, with Tom Mann starting at full back, Joel Gill moving to the wing and with Harry Dunn and Will Lawn getting seats on the bench.

Wharfedale (at Blaydon): Tom Mann; Robbie Davidson, Tom Davidson., Rhys Lovegrove, Joel Gill; Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead; Toms Asejevs, Dan Stockdale, Reece Ward, George Hedgley, Richard Rhodes, Kieran Frost, James Tyson, Josh Burridge. Replacements Ian Larkin, Joe Altham, Matty Houghton, Harry Dunn, Will Lawn.