Durham Cricket League: Phili eye final flourish in league and cup, despite loss of star Singh

Philadelphia. Back row, from left: Gary Braithwaite, Amarjeet Singh, Adam McGuire, Peter Greenwell, Steven Wright, Jamie Parkinson. Front: Mark Emmerson, Shaun Hauxwell, Shaun Smith, Paul Hollinshead.

Philadelphia. Back row, from left: Gary Braithwaite, Amarjeet Singh, Adam McGuire, Peter Greenwell, Steven Wright, Jamie Parkinson. Front: Mark Emmerson, Shaun Hauxwell, Shaun Smith, Paul Hollinshead.

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Philadelphia are aiming to end the season on a high.

Captain Shaun Smith enjoys the luxury of having his strongest side available for Saturday’s trip to Green Drive to take on second-top Dawdon.

Third-placed Phili are also gunning for glory on three cup fronts.

“We’ve already won the Hedworth Williamson Cup and have the chance to lift another couple of cups, so we have a lot to play for in both the league and knockout competitions,” said Smith.

“Whatever the outcome, we’ve had our best season in years.”

Indian Amarjeet Singh has played a pivotal role in the team’s success.

Chairman Malcolm Pratt said: “We look forward to him finishing with more than 50 wickets and maybe 500 runs. He has been a great asset this season, that’s for sure.”

Had Dawdon, with 10 wins this season, converted a few of their six losses, it would have been a different picture at the top. They are at full strength and skipper Stephen Gale said:“We are confident and expect to win against a strong Philadelphia team.”

Horden, in fourth, could leap-frog them both of course, if that match is drawn and they win at home to Crook Town.

However, Crook will be fighting for their lives, as they are in the second relegation position, 19 points behind the safety line and Bill Quay.

Quay are desperate for points and they travel to Castle Eden, who have had a very good second half to their season.

Quay have John Newstead back and skipper Jeff Tudor said: “If we win one of our last three, we should be safe, and we still have Crook to play.”

Seaham Park are not safe just yet and they entertain Durham City, who have done enough to stay up this season, while Esh Winning take on Easington in a mid-table clash.

Burnopfield will be crowned champions if they beat relegated bottom club Hylton, who have managed just a solitary victory this season.

Burnopfield are odds-on favourites to wrap the title up at the Billy Hardy Centre in only their second season in the league, following promotion from Division Two last year.

Division Two has been fascinating all season, and, incredibly, it’s still possible for any two of seven teams to be promoted.

Realistically, with Littletown holding a 50-point advantage over Marsden, in third, they are probably home and dry, but, Whiteleas in second, are just 17 points ahead of their South Tyneside neighbours.

The leaders travel to sixth-placed Ryhope on Saturday, while Whiteleas are at home to Ushaw Moor, who are seventh and 30 points behind their opponents.

Leas are bolstered by the return of influential skipper Owen Peterson and also welcome back opening bowler Chris Nichol, after a nagging calf injury.

Nichol has put in some fine performances with the new ball this season, but has gone under the radar somewhat, as club pro Abdul Ameer has taken the plaudits for some phenomenal hauls of wickets.

Ushaw Moor themselves are not out of contention, so Leas are expecting a tough battle .

Skipper Peterson said: “The lads have dug in all season and produced some outstanding displays to get us in the position we are in.

“It’s been tight at the top from game one and I have no doubt that won’t change until the last game.

“It’s going to be tough, but we have strong characters in the team who are all up for the fight. Morale is great and the game can’t come soon enough for them.”

Fourth-top Peterlee, level on points with Marsden, are at home to rock-bottom Silksworth and must be big favourites to win.

Marsden entertain fifth-top Evenwood, in fifth, a game which looks a cracker on paper, as one team is likely to be eliminated from the promotion race after this game, if it’s a draw, then the other teams will get closer – brilliant cricket conspiracy theories!

Boldon CA have Adam Slater back at home to Houghton.

Murton welcome Langley Park to the Welfare Ground. Langley have skipper David Jones back and Connor Surtees returns after his recovery from a broken jaw, while Craig Robertson will look to maintain his impressive recent form.

Chairman Stephen Cheal said: “It’s always a good game against Murton.”