MURTON and Seaham Park have set a hectic pace at the top of the 3D Sports Durham Coast League, so the progress of Dawdon has been a little overshadowed.
But they look well placed to mount a realistic challenge to the leading pair in the coming weeks.
Sitting third, and yet to taste defeat, Dawdon are at home to Silksworth on Saturday and have both Jamie Greenwood and Craig Stephenson back for this one to put them at full strength, as long as skipper Stephen Gale gets the all-clear to play.
Gale made a mess of his finger when hanging on to a catch last weekend and had to leave the field after just five overs. He rates himself as “very doubtful”, although adding the rider that he would be keeping his fingers crossed – if he could.
Silksworth are nestled comfortably in mid-table, but skipper Paul Smailes recognises that their opponents are one of the stronger sides they will face. He said: “We are looking forward to the game at Dawdon which will provide a stern test. Without doubt, they’ll be there challenging for the title.
“Unfortunately, we have one or two missing for the game, with opening batsman Craig Nield out this week after some impressive displays with the bat, and vice-skipper Chris Pringle is also unavailable.
“On the positive side, Michael Kelly is set to make his second debut after returning to us after a year at Seaham Harbour, and Malcolm Nicol also returns.
“I should also mention, because he asked me to, that Silksworth legend Stevie Wright continues to battle through his shoulder injury, giving warrior-like performances, topping the club batting averages and wicket-taking list. He’d better give another heroic performance at Dawdon after this!”
Seaham Park hand second-team keeper Darren Robinson an opportunity at Boldon CA, with normal glove man Alan Anderson away. Robinson has earned his chance after some excellent displays for the seconds, where he has been scoring plenty of runs, including a century last time out.
Boldon CA have skipper Lee Jackson back at the helm. The struggling champions have to reckon without Owen Gwyn, Brian Conlon and Dave Batty for this one, but Gary Hewitt returns and Andy O’Connell earns promotion.
Leaders Murton take a settled side to Seaham Harbour, who select Craig Hunter for the unavailable Adam Fairley. Hunter is an all-rounder who bowls off-spin and has been enjoying an excellent season so far in the seconds, picking up plenty of wickets.
Peterlee have more players returning to the fold this week, with Micky Buckingham and Min Mahill back for the home game against Ryhope, although Michael Garraghan is likely to miss the next four weeks or so after undergoing an operation on his hand.
Skipper Luke Anderson is out of Ryhope’s side, so the team will be captained by Micky Thorpe in his absence. Alan Dick makes a timely return.
Bill Quay entertain Washington and unchanged Easington take on a Hylton side who bring in Jackie Cowell for the unavailable Adam Bewick.