NE Premier League: Chester relish trip to face old rivals South North, as Eppleton look to build on superb win

Horden (bowling) v Easington (batting). Lal Kumar bowling for Horden. Picture: TOM BANKS
Horden (bowling) v Easington (batting). Lal Kumar bowling for Horden. Picture: TOM BANKS
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Chester-le-Street travel to league leaders South Northumberland in the Premier Division on Saturday, relishing a big game against their old rivals.

Skipper John Coxon said: “We will be missing Quentin Hughes, but hopeful that Stephen Cantwell returns back from injury – he will have a late fitness test.

Boldon batsman Chris Ellison hits out against Seaham Harbour in last week's Division One clash.

Boldon batsman Chris Ellison hits out against Seaham Harbour in last week's Division One clash.

“We always look forward to the games with South North and they are always competitive.

“They have a strong side and it will be a good test for us, but we are looking forward to the game.”

South North skipper Adam Craggs said: “John Graham and Callum MacLeod are unavailable and Michael Craigs returns.

“It was a big shock losing last week (to Eppleton), but the warning has been noted that no side just turns up and wins.

“Skill, time, effort etc, are all part of the equation! Thankfully, the side returned to winning ways in the regional T20, when winning at York last Sunday.”

Eppleton travel to Benwell Hill and director of cricket John Smithson said: “Paul Coughlin is away with Durham, so he is replaced by Craig Scurr, who is back from holiday, as are David Wilkinson and Piers Davison.

“They are all regular first-teamers, so those holding the fort return to the seconds.

“Despite a great result last Saturday over South North – their first defeat of the season – it gets no easier, as another match against near table-toppers looms this week. If all goes as well as last week, there are plenty of reasons to think further triumphs are in the offing.”

Durham Cricket Academy entertain second-placed Newcastle.

Academy manager John Windows makes two changes – Matthew Clark is back in the Durham main squad, while Liam Trevaskis is with England U19s for their one-day series against India.

Chris McBride is still an injury worry, so Jonathan Pears is likely to take his spot. The youngsters need to win to remain in touch with the teams above them.

Newcastle’s director of cricket, Doug Hudson, said: “We are hoping to have the same side as last week, unless Durham call for the services of Cameron Steel again.

“Durham Academy are a ‘tough nut’ to crack and are playing well at present. We need to be at our best to compete for the points with them.”

Hetton Lyons welcome bottom club Felling to Lilywhite Terrace and skipper Jarvis Clay has a few players missing.

“Jonathan Malkin is at a wedding and Cameron Grimwood is unavailable,” he said. “Their replacements include Adam Shaw, who is returning from holiday and goes straight back into the side.

“Felling, although in the nether regions of the league, will be a dangerous outfit with several ex-top-class players in the ranks, so we must be on our mettle to be in with a chance of gaining the points.”

Tynemouth are probably safe this season, but visitors Whitburn are still in the relegation mire. They meet up at Preston Avenue.

Eddie Hurst returns to open the batting for South Shields, after rejoining from Durham Academy, in their vital trip to Stockton.

First Division leaders Sacriston travel to Willington, and director of cricket Iain Bestford said: “Will Gidman is playing for Kent and Graham Wrightson is at work. Jack Hardy and Jack Keall who is a bowler, are their replacements.

“Though Willington are lower in the table, they are in with a shout for end-of-season honours and need to be treated with great respect.”

Burnopfield, in second, have a slender three-point lead over third-placed Burnmoor.

They entertain Washington, whose captain, Ash Thorpe, said: “Ben Mussett returns and replaces Colin Myers, who is out with a broken finger, probably for the rest of the season.

“The side is not playing well as a team. There are performances from individuals, but the team needs to gel as one unit, to take advantage of those individuals coming up with the goods, in order get back to winning ways.”

He added: “We can beat anybody on the day, but, alas, the reverse is also true! The team has had an in-depth, heart-to-heart discussion to improve matters, highlighting current failings and it is hoped that this week’s fixture, will see the outcomes of that discussion bear fruit!”

Burnmoor welcome Sunderland and visiting secretary Mike Smith said: “We should be full strength with Greg Appleyard returning to open the batting.

“We may have Usman Arshad, but his availability rests on Durham CCC requirements. At present, it seems he will take to the field.

“This is an opportunity to close the gap on our rivals and it will depend on who produces the goods on the day. Either side can win, but this is a chance to gain revenge after the defeat earlier in the season.”

The bottom two teams meet up, as Seaham Harbour host Mainsforth, who have Ryan Dawson, Keiran Jowett and Aidan Cummings back.

Boldon are away to Blaydon, while Brandon entertain Gateshead Fell.