Durham City on the brink

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DURHAM City are beginning to plan for life in the top division after their decisive win last week over Silksworth took them to the verge of promotion and the Readers Durham Cricket League Division Two title.

City need 15 points from their final game of the season at Ryhope on Saturday to be certain of clinching the title.

They need four to be absolutely certain of promotion after the mysterious points system claimed yet another victim last week when Durham were incorrectly awarded 25 points for their win instead of 20.

Despite the points mix-up, City skipper Jake McCann was simply pleased to get a win on a day where the weather was always going to play a part, and he was quick to praise the efforts of a couple of players who featured strongly.

McCann said: “Fifteen-year-old off spinner Scott Steel claimed four wickets in an excellent spell against Silksworth.

“Scott probably hasn’t bowled as much as we would have liked this year for one reason or another, but he’s made some excellent contributions and he’s done well for the county also.

“Nick Maiolo was another in sparkling form last week with an unbeaten half-century, and we knocked off their score in only 15 overs. Nick has had a great all-round season, scoring 400 plus runs at an average of 60 odd, and taking over 40 wickets as well.”

McCann himself has made over 500 runs and taken over 20 victims behind the stumps, playing an important part in his side’s success, but his focus is more on the future.

He added: “The target this season was promotion, and with that almost achieved if we can now win our last game then the league title would be a great bonus.

“Long term, the club want to be competitive at as high a level as possible, so we will continue to plan and develop the side with that goal in mind.”

Durham are more or less at full strength for their crucial final game, with Steve Oosterhoff and Andrew Hutchinson returning, their only absentee being Danni Hazell.

It wouldn’t be Ryhope without three changes, and the ever-revolving selection door sees Liam Kirk, Chris Lawrence and Alan Raine all sweeping back in through the entrance for their penultimate game of the campaign.

Following back to back defeats, Whiteleas’ promotion hopes have taken a major buffeting, but there is still a slim chance if maximum points are taken from their remaining two games and rivals Bill Quay slip up.

Leas skipper Ray McRae described last week’s defeat to bottom-of-the-table Peterlee as a huge missed opportunity but remains optimistic about his side’s chances of promotion.

He said: “We’ll be gunning for maximum points on Saturday so that Bill Quay, who don’t play this weekend, go into their final game needing to win.”

Bob Scorer returns to the side for their home game against Silksworth, who are able to include the returning Michael Nicholson and Kieran Laws.