Murton’s season-long 3D Durham Coast league domination of the league rankings came to an end last Saturday when they crashed to defeat at the hands of a revitalised Seaham Park.
But with Dawdon only able to draw their match against Ryhope, their position as the new leaders is not yet a convincing one, their advantage being just five points.
With only five games left to play there is little room for error, and Saturday’s fixtures would suggest Murton could have a chance to recover their place at the head of the table as they take on bottom club Peterlee, while Dawdon’s challenge looks to be a tougher one with a home game against a Washington side who have only lost one game so far this season.
Peterlee are rooted firmly to the foot of the table with no wins and nine defeats making up a record that sees them 30 points behind second-bottom Bill Quay. They have a new captain, with Andrew Laidler recently taking over from Dale Butler who has had to stand down because of work commitments.
Murton can point to a much weakened line-up against the Park last week as one of the reasons for their collapse, but with Davey Hanson back at the helm, and Graeme Robson, Richard Lowes and Keith Chapman also returning, they will be back to full strength and will perhaps go for a maximum points haul if they win the toss.
Dawdon expect to have their best side in the field, but Washington have to reckon without new signing Dan Woolston and Durham over-50’s player Nick Thompson who now requires an operation on a fractured finger which effectively ends his season.
There is another Seaham derby looming with Harbour entertaining Park in a match which is all about pride, league positioning and bragging rights.
It would take a highly unusual combination of results for either team to tilt at the title in the final weeks, but with just three points separating the two sides there is plenty of interest riding on the result.
Harbour welcome back Andy Boal, Jeff Laws and Jack Lacey, although have to make do without Neville Gustard, while skipper Mike McNicholas is back on the Park bench and replaces Michael Evans.
After last week’s free weekend due to Steve Wright’s wedding Silksworth are back in action at Boldon.
The Silks understand Wright is available, although he has been uncontactable so far as he enjoys his first few days of married life, and Mark Forster and Paul Bradford return to the side with Darren Stoker missing.
Boldon’s purple patch consists of three consecutive wins, these coming on the back of a 14 game start to the season which didn’t include a single victory. David Batty, Brian Conlon and Jason Jones are all back this weekend.
In Saturday’s other games, Easington included Brian Fenwick junior in place of the holidaying Andrew Price when they entertain a Ryhope side that includes the returning Connor Pearson, and Hylton have to reckon without fractured knuckle victim Graham Shovelin and the working Andrew Kibble when they travel to Bill Quay.