Dukes North East Premier League First Division by Chris West
EPPLETON get another chance to make club history on Sunday when they play their Banks Salver semi-final against Blaydon.
The match was rained off a couple of weeks ago, and they will have home advantage in the re-scheduled tie which has a 1.30pm start time.
Eppleton should have a full team available to them for the game following Liam Irving’s return to the side – he misses out on Saturday’s league match at Seaham Harbour as he’s attending a wedding.
The only doubt the Church Road outfit have relates to Davey Wilkinson’s muscle tear. He was not risked in the first team last weekend, and it is hoped the further week’s rest will enable him to be declared fit and take his valued place in the Eppleton dressing room.
While Salver success would be nice, it’s the championship and promotion which is the more enticing carrot.
With games running out, Eppleton need to be making inroads some time soon into South Shields’ healthy 41-point lead at the head of the table.
Shields have decided to stick with their club players once more for their game at Felling, and they name the same side as the one named last weekend.
Sam Taylor-Gell actually dropped out of that side at short notice after suffering a hand injury in a Durham County Under-17 match the day before, however he has been passed fit and will start.
Felling have one or two selection issues with Mike Malthouse away, and Jonny Nicholls likely to be sidelined for some time after a broken bone in his foot was diagnosed after he suffered an ankle injury in the limited amount of action last Saturday.
There could also be a call on skipper Chris Taylor, whose wife is due to give birth at any time. David Dent and Lee Hargreaves are the two players called up.
Neil Mulvaney has made a good recovery from the calf injury that kept him out over the last fortnight, and he takes his place in the Boldon side who entertain South Hetton, coming in to replace Neil Johnson who is away.
South Hetton dropped to the foot of the table last weekend when Willington managed to squeeze out the only victory of the day against Brandon, and they are now 16 points adrift.
They have delayed selection, although both Tony Murphy and Dan Stewart are missing.
After a promising opening sequence of four wins in an unbeaten seven-game run, Sacriston have suffered two defeats and a draw in their last three, and this has seen their title hopes fade.
They now have 51 points to make up on the leaders in the last eight games, and they need a positive result at in-form Willington on Saturday.
Ian Jones and Jon Rudolf are away this week, so Tony Claughan and young Jack Keall are brought in.
Willington secretary Dave Whitehead feels the sudden change of fortune means his side has at last turned a corner.
He said: “The lads have been playing decent cricket all season without much luck, so to have won the last two matches in a row, and to get us off bottom spot in the league at the same time, has been a real boost for the club.
“Now we want to continue this run of good results and see if we can start climbing the league table.”
In Saturday’s final game, third-placed Washington travel to Brandon where the home side continue to be perplexed by their own inconsistency.
Tipped as one of the title favourites, four defeats in 10 outings has left them with a mountain to climb if they are to realize their ambitions, but they do have Jamie Robinson back from his hamstring injury.
Stuart Poynter may be a doubt having been selected for the Ireland squad who play Sri Lanka A in three matches over the next five days.