IT’S fasten your seat belts time in the Durham Senior League with the action set to come thick and fast in the next few weeks.
This coming weekend features a double header of league matches with the weather-aborted opening day’s programme of April 28 being re-scheduled to be played on Sunday, and teams will then face another double dose of action in a fortnight’s time when the wiped-out fixtures of June 16 are played on that Sunday.
Add to this the fact that the following bank holiday weekend also features two games in three days then most of the sides face the prospect of playing seven league matches in the month of August, with a few big events like the Armbrister final and T20 finals day sprinkled nicely over the top, like seasoning on a sumptuous meal, the only potential worry being too rich a feast for some in the holiday season.
This intense period of action will certainly test clubs resources, and the first effect of that has been the postponement of the Armbrister final between Burnmoor and Eppleton. That match had been lined up for tomorrow night, but will now be played on Friday, August 10 after Eppleton had to wait several weeks to find out who they would be playing, only to find the game was then scheduled the day before their free Saturday when a whole glut of players would be away on holiday.
That delay will also allow Burnmoor the chance to concentrate fully on their league commitments, with the match-of-the-season as far as the title is concerned now taking place on Sunday when they entertain Castle Eden. That game will top off a crucial home double for the leaders as they entertain Whitburn on Saturday.
As is usual at this time of year, holidays, work and football complicate the selection process for clubs, with all the top sides having to juggle resources. Burnmoor will be missing Paul Davidson and Owen Lancaster in their opener, although Lancaster play on Sunday, while Whitburn have to reckon without Neil Johnson for the first game and with Ross Carty still away the return of Lee Henderson and Paul Cook provides relief.
Castle, who are now 37 points behind Burnmoor, retain two games in hand on the leaders, and they begin their double with a trip to Marsden. But they will be missing two key men on both days, with Alan Unsworth and Keith Bailey out of the weekend’s action. Phil Winpenny will probably be one of those to get the nod.
Marsden could provide a tricky obstacle for the challengers – they have Patrick Jackson now recovered from his hand injury, and Connor Elliott returning from holiday. Having managed to eke out a battling draw at Boldon last time out they will be more confident that they can start to look upwards in the final weeks of the campaign.
In other team news, Durham have to reckon without the services of Subhan Christudas for the next month. Fears that Shaun Hauxwell would be out for the rest of Philadelphia’s season with a serious finger fracture have receded after he decided to reject advice and the pain barrier and play while injured, and with skipper Robbie Atherton on Olympics security duty for the next couple of weeks South Hetton will be captained by Gary Burlinson in his absence.