Durham Cricket League: Philadelphia fired up for big weekend in league and cup
They are gearing up for a defining weekend as, on Sunday, Bunker Hill is the venue for the Fifteen15 finals day.
The first semi-final sees Dawdon up against Marsden, starting at 11am, with Esh Winning tackling host club Philadelphia at 1.45pm. The final is expected to begin at 4.30pm.
Phili captain Shaun Smith said: “It’s a big weekend for the club, but, whatever the outcome, we have experienced our best season in several years.
“I expect to have a full strength squad available for both matches.”
The relegation dogfight continues, with marooned bottom club Hylton still to discover who will join them in Division Two next season.
In the match of the day, Crook Town, sitting in the second relegation position, welcome Bill Quay, who are 30 points ahead of their hosts.
Town were heavily beaten at Horden last week and received no points for their efforts, while Quay dug in for a draw at Castle Eden and claimed six points, to widen the gap.
The form book is not good, with Crook not winning since the beginning of July and Quay not since the first weekend this month, so something will have to give.
If Crook lose, their relegation will be guaranteed.
Quay have David Hill and Mark Fish back to strengthen their line-up, but Craig Falcus is unavailable.
Seaham Park, promoted from Division Two last season, are now safe after their excellent win at Durham City last week, knocking off 208 runs to win.
They host Horden, who are looking to finish as runners-up to Burnopfield.
Dawdon travel to Easington and will be hoping to maintain third place, matching last season’s final standing.
Easington have had a much-improved campaign, sitting fifth at the moment having been fourth-bottom last summer.
Castle Eden welcome outgoing champions Esh Winning, in a mid-table clash. Only 11 points separate the two teams, but Esh are a remarkable 117 points behind Burnopfield after winning the league last year.
Castle Eden have Richard McGlasham returning to the side.
Champions Burnopfield have realised their ambitions this season.
Chairman Marty Oswell said: “At the end of the 2014 season, the club made a collective decision to resign from the Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League and apply for entry to the recently formed Durham Cricket League and were duly elected for the 2015 season.
“The rationale behind this move was purely for cricketing reasons.
“The club now has the facilities and financial stability to enable it to compete with the best and to achieve our aspiration to get into the areas elite league, the North East Premier League.
“Gareth Breese, the club’s director of cricket, has complete responsibility for cricketing matters, including coaching at all levels, and we are also very fortunate to have Callum Thorp and Neil Killeen.
“They are highly qualified coaches and we are certain that they can improve and bring the best out of our local players. Those local players will continue to be the lifeblood of the club in the future.”
On Saturday, Burnopfield travel to Durham City, who have had an indifferent season this time out, after finishing fourth last year.
Division Two leaders Littletown will be promoted if they win away to Langley Park.
Victory would complete the remarkable transformation of the reformed club who only joined the league last season.
The big match in the division, though, sees second-top Whiteleas entertaining third-placed Peterlee, with a 14-point advantage going into the penultimate match of the campaign.
What a match is expected for the two teams hoping to join Littletown in Division One. Unchanged Whiteleas in second, entertain Peterlee in third and only 14 points behind them.
Confidence is high in the Leas camp, but skipper Owen Peterson is urging his players to stay focused.
He said: “We had a great win against a very good Ushaw Moor side last week, but Saturday’s game will be extremely tough, therefore we can’t get carried away.
“Peterlee have had a great season and fully deserve to be in the frame for promotion. Games against them are always close contests and we need to be at our very best if we are to maintain a challenge.”
The match will feature a fascinating battle between the league’s leading wicket-taker, Abdul Ameer, and leading run-scorer Aaron Shellie.
The overseas stars have both had remarkable campaigns to date, with Ameer amassing 78 wickets for Leas, including nine last week, and Shellie bagging 950 runs for Peterlee.
All results are possible in the above match, but Marsden, in fourth place and just a single point behind Peterlee, will be hoping for a draw.
That will be the ideal result for them, but only if they beat Ushaw Moor at Highfield Terrace.
In the remaining matches, bottom club Silksworth entertain neighbours Ryhope as they seek only a second victory of the season, second-bottom Boldon CA travel to Evenwood and Houghton welcome Murton to Leyburn Grove.