The heat’s on lowly Hylton

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THE pressure is on Hylton at the bottom of Division One after Marsden won on Monday to narrow the gap between the two relegation scrappers to just eight points.

Hylton skipper Alan Mustard was a little despondent after his team’s bank holiday display at Philadelphia, but the players have committed themselves to the club for the final three games of the campaign which means he should be able to count on full strength line-ups as the team goes in search of safety.

The Wearsiders begin that search with a home game against Dawdon on Saturday, the visitors also expecting to be able to put out their strongest XI.

At the top, here was the smell of promotion in the air this week with the long-awaited ground and facilities inspections by the North East Premier League taking place at the leading six clubs, although none have yet been told of the outcome of those visits.

Burnmoor are taking nothing for granted in playing terms despite going back to the top of the table on Monday night after the bank holiday fixtures.

They now lead Tudhoe by six precious points but have two titanic battles awaiting them in the next 10 days, with their visit to third-placed Esh Winning on Saturday being followed by a trip to Tudhoe next weekend – in effect there could not be a tougher run-in for the reigning champions.

Burnmoor are waiting for confirmation of Martin Thursfield’s availability before naming their line-up, although everyone else is available.

Esh have to reckon without the holidaying Stephen Jackson and Michael Oughton and bring in Graham Hurst and Brian Gott.

Tudhoe will be losing their South African professional, Kushen Kishun, shortly as he returns home after Saturday’s game at Crook.

Skipper Tim Smalley will be sorry to see him go as, after struggling to adapt to conditions at first, Kishun has done well in recent weeks and has more than 40 league wickets to his credit.

Two top-six teams clash at Castle Eden, where Horden are the visitors, with the losers almost certain to be eliminated from the race to finish in the top four.

The hosts have John Brown, Richard Ede and Ryan Ball back, while Horden miss Lee Gilbert, who is sidelined by a shoulder problem. Paul Franks makes a welcome return after missing most of the campaign.