CHAMPIONS Boldon CA have a great chance to haul themselves back into the title race on Saturday when they travel to play table-topping Seaham Harbour.
Boldon have yet to hit the heights of last season, but they have only lost once so far and are just 33 points behind Harbour, so victory for the holders would throw the championship doors wide open.
Fixtures secretary Dave Thompson knows exactly what this match means to his club: “We are looking at it as a must-win game, it is an absolutely pivotal moment in the season for us.”
CA have the significant boost of the return from injury of key bowler Carl Watson, after some time out of the game.
Thompson added: “Carl has been on the sidelines for five weeks with a broken wrist, and it’s a big bonus for us to have him back, especially as the pitch at Seaham has favoured the bowlers this year.
“We have a multitude of options in the attack, so much so that we can afford to leave out the wily veteran slow left-armer, George Lincoln, who will return to the second team.”
Harbour’s attack is one of their biggest strengths, and they, too, have been able to clear their treatment room with the weather-enforced lay-off helping their cause.
Neville Gustard is back from injury along with Jack Lacey, who would have returned last week had it not been for the rain. Harbour see this game as the chance to give themselves some breathing space ahead of the main player holiday period which arrives shortly.
Silksworth are desperate to avenge two disappointing defeats when they travel to Easington.
Opening bat Paul Smailes explained: “We are still smarting from those defeats by Easington earlier this season, losing against eight men in the Dixon Cup and suffering a 156-run reverse in the league.
“We are keen to put things right on Saturday, especially given Easington are only a handful of points behind us in the table.”
But Silksworth will have to attempt their mission without four first-team regulars as Paul Bradford (wedding), Eddie Wood (ankle), Michael Waterson (work) and Phil Middlemiss (holiday) are all missing. Anthony Bell, Paul Dixon and Billy Hedgley are three of those drafted in. Easington have Jordan Wilson back from holiday.
With David Laidler at a wedding, Peterlee draft in promising young seamer Shaun Taylor for their game at Dawdon, where the home side are able to include the Purewal twins, Amar and Arjun, this week as they do not have any footballing commitments – something that will not be the case in future weeks.
Ryhope face a tough encounter when they entertain Washington. The visitors have dragged themselves out of the doldrums this season, capping off their rise from the ashes with the Andrew Dixon Cup win last week.
They have selection problems this week – but of the good kind as they have a full squad of 14 to select from with the return of Andrew Ebdale and Joe Thompson from holiday.
In Saturday’s other games, Murton include Dan McNamee for their home game against Seaham Park, although Ian King and James Watson are missing, and Hylton take on Bill Quay in a match crucial to both sides’ title ambitions.