NE Premier League: On-song Waterson the key as Whitburn plot Chester-le-Street shock

Boldon bowler Jack Sargon bowls against Seaham Harbour last weekend

Boldon bowler Jack Sargon bowls against Seaham Harbour last weekend

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Whitburn hope that on-song Kieran Waterson can maintain his outstanding form in Saturday’s tough Premier Division trip to title-chasing Chester-le-Street.

The Villagers are unbeaten in three and go into the Ropery Lane clash in confident mood, having won their last two games.

Waterson plundered 7-35 in last week’s victory over Gateshead Fell, after taking 5-41 against South Shields the previous week.

Skipper Ross Carty, who is unavailable, said: “We are looking forward to the game and we have Kieran Waterson on fire at the moment with 12 wickets in his last two games.”

Paul Shields comes in to keep wicket, replacing Carty.

With only four games to go until the end of the season, leaders Chester-le-Street aim for an eighth successive win to at least maintain their 42-point advantage in pole position.

Skipper John Coxon said: “The team is full of confidence and positivity at the moment, with everyone contributing when necessary.

“The winning run has helped maintain the momentum and we are totally focussed on the Whitburn game and not looking any further ahead at the moment.”

Chester have only one change to make to the winning team, with Andrew Bell returning to the team.

Durham Academy play South Shields and can leapfrog their opponents if they win well.

The youngsters have England U19 international bowler Josh Coughlin back in the side to strengthen the team and coach John Windows is pleased to have him back, saying: “It’s great to have Josh back in the team -­ he has done very well of late.”

Hetton Lyons have a tough match at home to Tynemouth, but they did hold Newcastle to a draw last week at Osborne Avenue, so they are in good spirit going into the game.

Lyons have Robert Talbot back, but Cameron Grimwood is unavailable and professional Mahesh Rawat has returned to India for his training camp.

Eppleton, promoted last season, are eager to stave off the threat of the drop and will look to capitalise on Stockton’s recent failings to secure a welcome win.

The visitors are 34 points ahead of bottom club Gateshead Fell but are more than capable of making it four successive defeats for Stockton.

Gateshead Fell are still in with a slim chance of survival, but they will not be shown any mercy by visitors South North, as they pursue leaders Chester-le-Street at the top.

Fell, who have staged some incredible late survival surges to stay safe in recent years (four wins in their final five games last season), are without Stephen Devenport and Durham paceman Graham Onions.

David Daley, though, is back. Skipper Mark Lockey said: “I am looking for a reaction after last week’s poor display and hoping the team will bounce back and win.”

Another team trying to chase down the leaders are Newcastle and the former leaders travel to Benwell Hill, who are probably just about safe from relegation.

The visitors have not won in four league games and have fallen away from the title race, but are still only 42 points behind and have the leaders to play at home.