By Chris West
IT’S the final countdown with reigning champions Boldon hoping that Kimblesworth will stumble at the last hurdle on Saturday and allow them to retain the title.
The Sunderland Road men, though, know it is a big ask as 12 points still separate the teams, but that makes Boldon’s strategy very simple in their home game against Horden.
They must bat first, go for maximum points and then wait to see if Durham City can overturn the form book and at least hold the leaders to a draw.
Boldon show just one change from last week’s side, with Grant Forster replacing Graham Smith, while Horden stick with the side that won last time out as they try to finish their campaign in the top half of the table.
Bottom club Durham City are all that stands in the way of success now for Kimblesworth, although perhaps the weather should be added to that list.
They will once again be at full strength with Michael Fishwick definitely playing. The Aussie thought his season was over when he suffered a serious hand injury a couple of weeks ago, but he will definitely be there to bolster his team’s final assault.
He confirmed: “Look, the hand’s not 100 per cent but I can bat with it. I just need to watch it in the field, but I’ll be playing.”
Durham are one point adrift of Philadelphia and desperate to get off the bottom rung, although they could not have chosen a tougher final fixture. City include Tom O’Neill and Danni Hazell, who replace Paul Moralee and Mark Rogers. Unchanged Phili finish their disappointing season at Felling.
But whoever finishes bottom will not face the relegation axe following the decision taken by clubs at the recent EGM that there would be no relegation in 2011, a decision that has had significant repercussions throughout the whole pyramid system.
One of the issues no longer clear is how any promotion application made by Senior League clubs to the North East Premier League would now be viewed.
However, for 2011 this is not a factor as the NEPL confirm they have not received any notice of intention to apply for admission from any club in the league, and the deadline for receipt of those has now passed.
Meanwhile, Burnmoor conclude a frustrating season, riddled with 16 draws in 21 matches, away to Whitburn.
They have to reckon without Martin Thursfield and Owen Lancaster, the latter sidelined by an ankle injury. Jack Holding and Mark Bell earn call-ups, while promising youngster McKenzie Wright retains his place.
Whitburn are missing vice-captain Paul Cook as well as leading wicket-taker Neil Johnson, but Ian Elliott returns, with Aidan Bannister earning promotion after runs and wickets for the seconds last week.
In other games, Tom Cosford returns to the South Hetton team along with Michael Took as they entertain Eppleton, and Castle Eden are unchanged for the visit of a Norton side that includes 15-year-old Shane Mitchell for the unavailable Ben Duncan.