ONE down, one to go – that’s how Castle Eden are looking at their latest test this coming Saturday when they entertain high-flying Burnmoor.
Last weekend, Castle Eden became the first team to topple top dogs Esh Winning, and they now get an immediate chance to do the same to second-placed Burnmoor when they entertain their old Durham Senior League rivals on Saturday.
The victory over Esh came in thrilling fashion, with skipper John Spellman playing a key role in the eventual outcome, but he was keen to pay tribute to the part the leaders played in a tremendous match, saying: “I have to say that it was a fantastic game of cricket which went right down to the final ball of the final over.”
Medium pacer Chris Freeman was a surprise hero when the game looked to be going away from Castle Eden. Spellman added: “I think they got to 110-1 and it looked like we were going to be chasing a big total. I decided to bring Chris Freeman on around this time and he did really well for us, pegging them back and taking wickets regularly. He really turned things round for us and put us in a strong position.”
Set a target of 187-9, Castle Eden took it right to the last over with Spellman (70 not out) admiring the last-ditch contribution of his batting partner. He said: “We headed into the final over requiring 12 to win and Richard Ede launched the first ball of the over for six. Going into the last ball, the scores were tied and Richard struck it for two to give us a great victory.”
Both Freeman and Ede will take their place in an unchanged line-up, which means that Jude Dinushan is still missing, but Burnmoor have their own key absentee with Jimmy Daley attending a wedding and set to miss the big game.
That disappointment is tempered by the long-awaited return to action of Owen Lancaster, who is pitched straight into the first team for his seasonal debut after recovering from an ankle break suffered during the football season. With Graham Stoker also back after a two-week lay-off with a hamstring strain and Gary Brown set to play, the stakes could not be higher for the two unbeaten teams.
Unbeaten Easington, with a full-strength side at their disposal, should be able to keep their run going when they visit a Langley Park team who are struggling desperately near the foot of the table following nine defeats in the 10 games they have actually played.
Philadelphia, still to lose too, have a potentially trickier assignment at Dawdon, who have won six out of 10, the same number of victories as their visitors. And neither side will have an excuse as they are able to select from full squads.
Silksworth are the only team below Langley Park, and they have yet to secure their first league win, but they will take some heart from their display against Hylton last time out when, although they lost, they got to within 37 runs of their target.
A trip to Kimblesworth awaits Silksworth, not something to be necessarily looked forward to given the hosts’ formidable record, but they have suffered a bit of a shock in the last few days with skipper Kevin Dixon jumping ship to join Lanchester in the Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League. Paul Craig takes over the captaincy duties, although the naming of a replacement for Dixon has been deferred.
Just one defeat in eight games has lifted Durham City’s spirits and enabled them to train their sights on a top-14 placing, and they have the chance to dent the hopes of another team eyeing up the same target when they go to Ushaw Moor.
City have lost two players from last week’s line-up with Danni Hazell now engaged in a Yorkshire women’s tour for the next couple of weeks and Max Scarr gone for the season, having returned home following the completion of his university studies. At the moment,l there is no news on their replacements.
Among those teams hovering around “the cut”, as it’s now become known, Whiteleas entertain a Bill Quay side with similar ambitions. While they will miss Scott Oliver, they do have Andrew Potts back, although there is a fitness doubt over Peter Sowden after he picked up a groin strain last week.
Murton are 14th, and they are hopeful for the return from injury of Graeme Robson and James Watson in time for the trip to Hylton, who are at full strength except for the still-holidaying Kevin Mustard.
Horden are without Lee Gilbert for their derby at Peterlee, while Seaham Park select father and son duo Darren and Bradley Robinson for the trip to Shildon.
Ryhope name an unchanged side for the visit of Marsden, who are able to include Ben Ali following his return from university, and Boldon CA have Craig Pirie back from holiday to step into the Glastonbury wellingtons of festival-bound Carl Purvis when they play Mainsforth.