Moor the merrier!

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TWO home games and a beer festival – what more could anyone want?

Well, two victories would be Burnmoor’s answer to that one as they roll up their sleeves for the five game run-in that will determine whether they hang on to the coveted Readers Durham Cricket League title and earn a 2015 place in the North East Premier League.

The traditional August Bank Holiday festival runs from Saturday through to Monday at the Village Ground, but the first-teamers of Burnmoor will have to abstain or moderate as they face up to two games that could well determine their future, with Marsden the visitors on Saturday and Easington arriving on Monday.

With both opponents in the bottom half of the table, Moor look well placed to add to their record of 10 wins to date, but, in a topsy turvy season, not everything has gone to plan.

Skipper Alec Linsley, though, feels his side is running into form at just the right moment, as evidenced by last week’s win over Hylton.

He said: “We were disappointed after a bit of a shabby start to that game, but Ian Conn then came into his own.

“Conny bowled his best spell of the season. In just eight overs, he claimed six wickets for a miserly 11 runs to skittle them out for 87.

“He’s obviously been around for ages and he has adapted his bowling style over the years, but he’s still churning out the wickets.

“He’s also good for me to keep wicket to and two of my five victims were off his bowling, including a stumping.

“I’m pleased to be back in the side after a hand injury which at first looked like a season ending problem – the hand feels good and I’m pleased to be back for the run-in.”

And there was praise, too, for batsman Paul Craig, with Linsley adding: “Paul has really hit the ball nicely in the last few weeks and with him in good form, plus the rest of the batsmen also making runs, I’m pretty confident we can retain our crown.

“Tudhoe have a strong side, but we are going to push them all the way.”

Having said all that, Linsley misses Saturday’s game as he attends a wedding, with Owen Lancaster deputising before Linsley’s Monday return.

Meanwhile, Marsden look doomed to relegation as they are 30 points from safety, although they do have Malcolm Mann back in the team following his recovery from an Achilles/calf problem.

Easington – who host Crook on Saturday – do not have any relegation concerns, but they have lost 10 times in a disappointing campaign, although they will be at full strength for both weekend games as Ryan Higgins returns.

Table-topping Tudhoe have a two-point advantage over Burnmoor going into the double header, and they face two potentially difficult hurdles in the shape of Boldon CA, who they visit on Saturday, and Castle Eden, who go to St Charles Road on Monday.

Tudhoe have a full squad at their disposal save for skipper Tim Smalley, who misses the first match, while Boldon CA still have to reckon without the unavailable Tommy Nixon and Andy McCord and therefore stick with the same line-up who lost at Esh Winning last week.

Castle Eden have a concern over Alan Unsworth, who twisted his knee last time out, and he faces a fitness test, but they will otherwise be unchanged.

Castle Eden are currently in a crucial top four slot, which is the last place a promotion slot can go down to if the leading sides don’t pass the North East Premier League litmus test.

Dawdon are one point behind them in fifth, with Horden, the only other side in with a shout, some seven points further back.

Dawdon’s double starts against Philadelphia at Bunker Hill and ends with a home game against Mainsforth, and they expect to be able to field the same 11 who destroyed Horden last time out.

Philadelphia have a hectic weekend starting with the Dawdon clash, and finishing with another home game against Hylton

Sandwiched in between is the Hedworth Williamson finals day at Whitburn, where they are scheduled to meet Boldon in a 10.30am semi-final, the winner going on to face Boldon CA or Whitburn in the late afternoon final.

Phili have everyone available, with a chance that Dan Foggin could return.

Horden welcome back Stephen Brett and Matthew Billyard for their games at Mainsforth and at home to Boldon CA.

In Division Two, there are just two games left for some, and three for others, and there is just the one Saturday programme to concentrate on over the bank holiday weekend.

Leaders Durham City go to Silksworth, where the home team are missing Kieran Laws and Michael Nicholson, although Paul Howe is available again and Billy Hedgeley plays.

Second-placed Bill Quay, just two points behind City, are at Ryhope and have to reckon without Berwick Hall and John Newstead, so Paul Bentham and Mark Cuskeran play. Their hosts have three in and three out yet again, with music festivals featuring strongly once more for those marked absent.

Whiteleas need the leading pair to slip up and must go for a maximum points haul at bottom club Peterlee. Leas have to make one enforced change, with Scott Oliver reverting to his football commitments, but batsman/keeper Andrew Potts set to return.

Murton host Langley Park.