NE Premier League: Eppleton take boost from '˜winning draw' into tough clash at unbeaten Whitburn
Bottom club Eppleton travel to third-placed Whitburn on Saturday, with team selection at the forefront of director of cricket John Smithson's mind.
Smithson said: “The team has yet to be finalised due to various problems, including injuries, holidays and work commitments.
“This will be a tough fixture at Whitburn, but the side gathered a fair bit of confidence in the winning draw against Durham Academy last time out.
“With the same spirit and consistency, it will be a close tussle.”
Whitburn skipper Paul Shields, whose side remain unbeaten, said: “There will be two changes from last time out, as Mark Elliot and Lee Henderson are unavailable.
“The replacements are Ben Markham and Brydon Carse. Brydon is a like-for-like swap, while Ben is more of an all-rounder who adds to the bowling attack.
“We are at home, which should always be an advantage. Whilst Eppleton appear to be in the doldrums, they are well capable of clicking on the day and creating big problems for their opposition, which happens to be us this week!”
Hetton Lyons, who lost at ghome to Whitburn to slip from top spot last weekend, travel to Newcastle,.
Newcastle skipper Phil Hudson said: “The club are hoping to include a new recruit in this week’s fixture, to bolster the batting of the team which has been a little inconsistent, during this early part of the season.
“As yet, the paperwork is not complete, so his place in the side is on hold. Sam Snoxall will be the player to make way, if the signing is ratified in time.
“The side is probably in a false position at present, due to inconsistency in the batting as mentioned, but the team, as a whole, must function better throughout in every fixture.”
Chester-le-Street are just three points off the top spot, as they host Felling at Ropery Lane.
Cestrian skipper John Coxon said: “We had an excellent all-round performance last weekend (in winning at Sacriston) and Jake McCann played superbly, in difficult conditions, to get us to a brilliant score when the pressure was on.
“Stephen Cantwell was then excellent with the new ball, taking four wickets, which made a huge contribution to us winning the match.
“We have a few changes, with Andrew Bell and Chris Rushworth, who can’t play, so Jack Harrison will come in and Alex McGrath will make his league debut.
“George Harrison will captain the side, as I am unavailable, and the lads will be concentrating on continuing their good performances.
“They will be focused on doing the basics very well and that will hopefully allow us to get another win on the board.”
Sacriston travel to Benwell Hill and official Iain Bestford said: “Melvyn Betts misses out this week due to a hamstring injury and his replacement is Jonny Bushnell.
“The side has started well and is currently just below mid-table. All the team members need to produce what they were picked for, in order to pull off a win.”
Durham Academy sit in second-bottom spot and will be looking for a win at the Emirates Riverside against mid-table Stockton, who are 19 points above them.
The Academy are yet to win a game in their first five fixtures, while the Teessiders have won two and lost three of their first five games.
Tynemouth take on leaders South Northumberland. The home side are just 18 points behind the visitors and will be looking to avoid defeat, to stay in touch with the early pace-setters.