EPPLETON face one of the most dramatic weekends in their history as they tackle two cup finals in three days and also seek to maintain their championship challenge.
For the first time ever, the Church Road club have made it into the finals of both domestic cup competitions in the same season.
The Armbrister Trophy final is first up tomorrow night when they tackle Boldon, followed by Sunday’s League Cup final against South Hetton. Sandwiched in between that little lot is a crucial league game at Horden.
One major advantage in the cup finals is that Eppleton enjoy home advantage in both, although they come face to face with the Armbrister specialists tomorrow night when facing a Boldon team who, prior to last season, won the trophy in each of the four previous years.
The clubs got a good chance to have a look at each other last weekend when they fought out a draw in the league, with Boldon getting the better of those exchanges after piling on 271-7 in their 55 overs, only allowing Eppleton 41 overs to respond which produced an almost inevitable stalemate as batsman Kyle Davis once again demonstrated his class.
The youngster is one of Eppleton’s brightest stars, having fulfilled the rich promise demonstrated in recent years – he tops the club’s run scorers charts with 476 in the league alone at an average of 60. But they have other match-winners, with Graham Hoban averaging more than 100 in the league, and Sura Malinga hitting his straps after his late arrival, with 27 wickets in six matches.
Despite the on-the-day glamour of the two finals, Eppleton know just how important it is to stay focused on the league, with Saturday’s match at second-placed Horden providing the perfect opportunity for them to leapfrog their opponents, who are just three points better off.
Eppleton’s only doubt for the arduous weekend surrounds the fitness of Craig Scurr, who tweaked a hamstring last weekend, but the decision on his fitness will be delayed until the last minute. Boldon, who follow tomorrow’s final with a home league game against Burnmoor, are able to include the returning Graham Fox in a full-strength squad.
South Hetton’s run to the League Cup final has been on the back of some outstanding form from Tom Cosford, and he returns to the side for Sunday’s final after a couple of weeks out, although he misses the home league game against Felling in which South Hetton include David Conway and 17-year-old James Davidson.
Kimblesworth have a chance to consolidate their position as leaders on Saturday when they entertain a Castle Eden team now propping up the rest.
They have a full-strength squad this week following the return of Stephen Meek, Johnny Green and Adam Morton, with the added boost that Michael Fishwick will be available for the rest of the summer with his school duties now put aside for the holidays.
Castle Eden have the comfort of John Spellman returning to lead the team after his honeymoon as they start the battle to get off the bottom.
Durham City look to build on last week’s fine win when they go to Whitburn, while Philadelphia host Norton at Bunker Hill.