NE Premier League: Captain Coxon seeks five in a row to keep up Chester’s title ambitions

Hetton Lyons bowler Gary Adey powers in against Whitburn last week
Hetton Lyons bowler Gary Adey powers in against Whitburn last week
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With just seven games to go, it’s all still to play for at the top and the bottom of the Premier Division.

At the top, Chester-le-Street travel to Tynemouth only seven points behind leaders Newcastle, but they must do without Quentin Hughes.

Skipper John Coxon is fully aware of the challenge ahead and said: “This will be a really tough game as they are not out of the title race yet, but we are looking forward to the challenge.

“We could go top with a win and the team is full of confidence, after four wins in a row.

“George Harrison and Richard Waite are batting brilliantly and, with Liam Simpson and Gurman Randhawa leading the bowling attack, we are well set.

“Everyone is contributing to the team.”

Durham Academy play Newcastle and could do the Cestrians a favour, as they are in great form at present, having won three of their last four league matches.

Asher Hart (knee injury) and Alasdair Appleby (dislocated finger) will face late fitness tests, but Vijay Vyshak will not be playing as he has returned to Bangalore.

Coach John Windows is optimistic again, saying: “The lads have started to apply themselves and playing much better. We have some tough matches coming up, starting with Newcastle.”

The leaders will be at full strength apart from Callum Harding, who is not available.

Fixtures secretary Doug Hudson said: “The lads were very disappointed to lose their unbeaten record last week and will be looking to bounce back immediately – they are champing at the bit and Jacques (Du Toit) will have them fired up for the game.”

Second-bottom Eppleton, 12 points adrift of Benwell Hill, entertain South Shields.

Director of cricket John Smithson said: “We are really showing some healthy spirit at present and we now have a 63-point gap above (bottom club) Gateshead Fell. It’s time to start looking upwards and catch the others above ourselves.”

Shields, having lost their last two league games, will make changes. Chairman Jim Elliott said: “It’s likely we will make a few changes after the last few results.

“We hope to finish as high as we can and a mid-table finish will be a good result for our club.” Gordon Muchall is likely to be with Durham and Luke Elliott faces a late fitness test after his knee injury.

Fourth-bottom Whitburn entertain Benwell Hill, who are only six points worse off, in an intriguing match.

Whitburn captain Ross Carty told the Echo: “This is a classic six-pointer and if we can get Kyle Coetzer out fairly early we will be in with a great chance.”

The home side miss Luke Smith and Paul Shields, but welcome back Andy Turns, who plays his first game since his back operation, and Craig Henderson, promoted from the second team.

Hetton Lyons travel to South North and skipper Jarvis Clay is in buoyant mood.

“We know it will be a tough match, but we are looking to cause an upset if we can,” he said. Johnny Malkin returns to open the batting.

Stockton, in fine form at present, host marooned Gateshead Fell, who will have Durham bowler Graham Onions available while Steve Devenport comes in from the second team to replace leg spinner Jamie Arkle, who is attending a wedding.

Mark Lockey, from the club, said:“We need to start putting a run together and, with upcoming games against Eppleton and Whitburn, it needs to start now.”