Cup success the big priority for Cestrians now

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DESPITE there being six games left to play, the Dukes North East Premier League Premier Division title race is all but over with Stockton now 107 points in front of second-placed Chester-le-Street.

But the Cestrians still have cup glory to aim for on both a national and local stage.

Having moved easily into the last eight of the ECB National T20 competition again, Chester have a home tie to look forward to on August Bank Holiday Sunday when they entertain the Bradford League side Pudsey Congs.

Victory in that game will secure the Cestrians another date in the four-team finals day at the Kia Oval in September.

Before then, though, they have an appearance in the inaugural Profound Durham Senior League Trophy final to look forward to this coming Sunday when they will play the Durham Academy at Horden in the 40-over contest.

Former Horden and Durham County player Stephen Ward is the backer of this competition, established to perpetuate the famous Durham Senior League name, and it is his company Profound Services who have put up a prize fund worth £2,000 to the winners.

The cup contest was open to all clubs who had been members of the Senior League throughout its history, and with two Premier Division teams competing in the first final a good crowd is expected for the match which has a 1pm start.

The Cestrians have a full squad at their disposal this weekend, with skipper Quentin Hughes back from holiday and David Foster returning after his 12th man duties at the Test.

With Usman Arshad also set to play, they face some difficult selection issues, with youngsters George Harrison and Stephen Cantwell also in the reckoning.

Their league game on Saturday is at Jesmond, where hosts Newcastle expect to have Michael Richardson available.

Durham Academy are not so lucky in terms of availability. As well as the cup final on Sunday, they face a daunting trip to Stockton 24 hours earlier,.

With Ben Whitehead out long-term with a stress fracture of the back, Ollie Ashford missing because of an ankle injury, and Andy Ireland playing for England Under-19s, their resources are stretched to the limit.

Sunderland hope to have Durham paceman Chris Rushworth appearing for them when they entertain Hetton Lyons on Saturday. The Dynamos star has yet to play for the Ashbrooke club this summer, but if he does turn out it will provide a big boost to a team desperate to end a four-games winless run.

For one of the first times this season, the home team will have a full squad to pick from as Danny Sanderson, Greg Davison and Craig Burdon are all back this week, but they will face a Lyons team that should include Ryan Pringle as well as a fit-again Gary Scott.

Pakistani Lal Kumar injured his side last week and will play only as a batter, while Steve Errington remains on the treatment table.