NE Premier League: Determined Sunderland eager to prove a point in Castle Eden clash
Sunderland are raring to go in Saturday's First Division trip to third-top Castle Eden.
Chairman Mike Smith, whose side lost at home to Burnmoor last weekend to stay fifth, said: “We will be unchanged from last week’s game and this week’s fixture will probably set the tone for expectations for the rest of the season.
“Castle Eden are where Sunderland would like to be, in the top three, so the opportunity arises to go toe-to-toe with an in-form team, and gives the side the chance to see what level we are at.
“Opportunities must be taken when they are presented.”
Castle Eden skipper Jonathon Brown said: “It will be a case of all hands on deck this week, as there are many changes due to holidays, work and injuries.
“Jonathan Brown, Keith Bailey, Robbie McGlasham and Ryan Ball are all missing.
“One named replacement is Liam Brown, but the others will only be selected when the full availability list is studied later in the week.
“This fixture should turn out to be an interesting one, with only two places between them and 30-odd points the gap.”
Burnmoor, in second spot, are hoping to boost their promotion dreams this weekend when they entertain fourth-placed Brandon.
Burnmoor skipper Alec Linsley said: “There are no changes from last week as the side continues its great run of form.
“The players are keen, but reluctant to lose their places to fellow squad members. Long may the run continue.”
Brandon skipper Chris Peareth welcomes back ex-Durham batsman Gordon Muchall, replacing Mansoor Amjad, who is unavailable this week.
Peareth said: “The side must start winning consistently and, with all the cricket skills honed over the years, put them to better use. It’s the only way the league will be won!”
Washington host leaders Burnopfield and skipper Ash Thorpe said: “The league leaders are in town and we have at least five first-teamers out due to various reasons.
“Michael Nunn, Stephen Cuthbertson, Matthew Corner, Mark Bell and Darren Geeringh are all missing.
“Their replacements will pitch in and give as good as they get and produce the same levels of commitment, as when the away fixture took place a few weeks ago. If all that gels, then a positive result could well ensue.”
Burnopfield chairman David Sweeney said: “Gareth Breese is unavailable due to his coaching commitments with Yorkshire Ladies.
“His replacement is yet to be selected along with the rest of the side.
“The side is maintaining its form and league position as confidence builds with each success. Complacency will be avoided at all costs.”
Willington entertain Boldon and skipper James Stock said: “Jake Louth is on holiday and it’s likely that Jamie Dass will take his place on his return from Durham CA duties.
“Adam Khan also returns at the expense of Peter Leggett. The side has had a poor run of form of late, partly due to players missing.
“They are returning now so hopefully form will pick up and results will too.”
Boldon skipper Chris Ellison said: “Nathan Hewitt is unavailable, but Geoff Sargon returns as wicketkeeper and will bolster the ranks.
“The side are in a bit of a trough at present, but are capable of better form and, with returning players, success should be just around the corner, hopefully on Saturday.”
Two teams who have struggled this season face each other at Eastwood Gardens, as Gateshead Fell host local rivals Blaydon.
The visitors are marooned at the bottom, but do have a game in hand, however, they are currently 24 points adrift of safety.
South Shields have the weekend off.