NE Premier League: Whitelock misses out as Eppleton face crucial survival clash at Stockton
Eppleton have it all to play for when they journey to the Grangefield Ground to take on fellow Premier Division relegation strugglers Stockton on Saturday.
Eppleton secretary John Smithson said: “The side travel with optimism having won last time out, but so did the opposition.
“Only 14 points separate the two in the league standings, so all is to play for and, hopefully,events go our way and we will leapfrog Stockton.”
“There is likely to be one change, with Connor Whitelock unavailable.
“His replacement sees the welcome return of Tyler Easton, who has been out for six weeks with a dislocated thumb.”
Sacriston have slipped to the bottom of the league in recent weeks and this weekend they head to Tynemouth.
Secretary Iain Bestford said: “It’s up to ourselves to put it right – we need a few results going our way.
“We are good enough and the players are backing each other, to get us up the league.
“Graeme Bridge is out with a broken finger, so Ben Hall steps in from the second team.”
Hetton Lyons, in fourth place, travel to Benwell Hill looking to get back on song after last week’s home defeat to Stockton.
Hill secretary Fenwick Marley said: “The full squad are all fit and ready to go, with Phil Nicholson added and he will probably replace one of the juniors from the second team.
“Frustrations are rumbling from last Saturday’s fixture when it seemed a win was on the cards, but they couldn’t quite finish off the opposition (leaders South North).”
Whitburn, in third, host Felling and skipper Paul Shields said: “Kieran Waterson returns to the team and replaces Craig Henderson.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
The i newsletter cut through the noise
“Chris McBride and Brydon Carse face late fitness tests and the two players shortlisted as replacements are Ross Carty and Luke Smith.
“The side is going well, but we need to be wary of Felling, who travel with back-to-back wins under their belt and appear to be at their most dangerous when chasing a total.
“This scenario will provide considerable thought at the toss!”
Chester-le-Street are second, 40 points behind leaders South North.
They travel to Newcastle and skipper John Coxon said: “We will hope to continue this good form to keep the pressure on South North at the top of the table.
“We will be without Liam Burgess, but Liam Simpson returns from injury.”
South North take on the Durham Academy this weekend, still revelling in a last weekend’s memorable feats.
South North batsman John Graham overtook Allan Worthy’s all-time run-scoring record of 10,451, only for Simon Birtwisle to beat that record less than an hour later, to be the leading run scorer with 10,460.
In the same match, Lee Crozier took his 700th NEPL Premier Division wicket and he is the first player to reach this landmark.
Club official Duncan Stephen said: “These landmarks are a tribute to their commitment to sustain a high level of performance since the inception of the NEPL in 2000 and should be recognised and applauded.
“There is a long way to go in this current season with many teams contending and capable of winning games on any given day.
“We aim to continue to play well – it will be an interesting journey.”