BOLDON have the chance to add a massive scalp to their belt when they entertain Chester-le-Street tomorrow night in the final game of the Co-operative Funeralcare T20 group stages.
Victory could well see them qualify for the quarter-finals if other results go their way, although that would depend on how well Seaham Harbour do at Brandon.
Almost certainly through already are Willington as their points tally can only be equalled by the chasing pack. With an extremely positive net run rate, they should have enough petrol in their tank to ensure they take one of the top two places.
Boldon will go into the Chester match, and Saturday’s home league encounter with South Hetton, in high spirits after a run of three consecutive league victories changed the mood in the camp completely.
An opening sequence of four games, in which they suffered two defeats and managed two draws, saw them being used as an early-season prop to the rest of the division, but they have now risen to the top five and are within striking distance of the leading group.
One of that group is South Hetton, who will not be short of confidence themselves after three wins and a draw in their last four outings, although they, too, have the little matter of an important T20 to get out of the way before Saturday.
They have no chance of qualifying from Group B but that won’t reduce the desire to do well at Hetton Lyons tomorrow.
South Hetton go into the weekend with three changes. Andrew Hillas, Len Houghton and Tony Murphy are expected to feature in both games, but Boldon are able to rely on a settled line-up with both Neil Mulvaney and Phil Shakespeare making successful returns from injury last week and feeling no ill-effects.
Whitburn expect to be at full strength as they continue their quest for title glory.
They have Neil Johnson back from holiday and fully fit so he slots straight into the side in place of Aidan Bannister. Their T20 chances have already gone, so the home league game against Eppleton will receive their full attention as they seek to maintain or improve their 24-point lead.
Eppleton have yet to win a league game, but they were never in danger of losing against high-flying Brandon last week despite facing a mammoth target of 303, and they stick with the same side for the trip to Whitburn.
The main talking point about the Brandon match was the decision for the hosts to declare bang on 50 overs, something which left Ruel Brathwaite stranded on 99 not out.
While not affecting the decision in any way, as it had been pre-agreed that the declaration would come at that point, there had been a mix-up with Brathwaite’s score in that it was showing as 95 on the scoreboard at the time the declaration was made, with a subsequent adjustment made by the umpires to add four after the scorers had incorrectly recorded one of his boundaries as byes.
Seaham Harbour have a few shortages for their home game against Sacriston, with Sean McKenna still sidelined by injury, Jack Lacey having work commitments and Neil McKinney likely to miss the rest of the season after deciding long-term rest would be the only cure for knees which continue to give him grief.
Stephen Sennett and Ryan Martin receive call-ups.