There’s a new spring in the step of Horden following a wonderful weekend.
They kick-started their league season by first demolishing Bill Quay, then followed up with an emphatic win over Annfield Plain in the first cup final of the summer.
The 2015 Roy Coates Cup Finals Day at Crook was washed out last September.
The delay worked pretty well for Horden as they had the chance to include their new 2016 pro Lal Kumar in their starting XI – and he didn’t disappoint as he blasted an unbeaten 117 from 54 balls, with 12 sixes.
Kumar then went on to claim three wickets as Horden bagged the first silverware of 2016.
Kumar has previous of course – many will recall his Hedworth Williamson cup final century against Eppleton a few years ago when he played for Great Ayton.
And following his spell with the North Yorkshire club, he went on to enjoy several outstanding seasons with Hetton Lyons.
The pre-season prediction was that he would be a big factor for Horden, and their opening league win confirmed that, with a spell of 31-4 and an unbeaten batting cameo as victory was secured.
Although, on this occasion, he couldn’t lay claim to the man-of-the-match accolade which belonged to club secretary Adam Dixon, whose six wickets cost just eight runs.
All of this suggests this Saturday’s match at Philadelphia is likely to be a thriller.
Phili won’t be overawed - they’ve done pretty well themselves with a victory at Castle Eden last weekend following a high-scoring draw in their opener.
Whilst Kumar could well be a big factor in the battle of Bunker Hill, the home team also appear to have an ace in their packs in the shape of Indian Armajeet Singh, who really hit his straps as the Castle crumbled.
The quickie picked up four cheap wickets, and by all accounts was pretty rapid, while he also demonstrated his all-round abilities with an unbeaten 46 runs.
Phili are awaiting news on the availability of Gary Embleton, while Horden are able to strengthen their starting XI following the return of skipper Carl Watson and Sean Bradbury.
Mark Wood, the recent signing from Marsden, is pencilled in for his debut.
After turning on the power in last week’s Seaham derby, Dawdon are back on home soil this weekend when they entertain Castle Eden, and they expect to be at full strength.
But Park face another daunting home game when they meet champions Esh Winning, who looked a completely changed outfit last week when they overpowered Durham City.
Leaders Burnopfield, who have a maximum points haul in the bag from their two games, are also able to turn out an unchanged team for their match at Bill Quay.
Easington, the only other side boasting a 100 per cent wins record, travel to Crook and have opening bat David Tarn back.
A powerful victory over Langley Park last weekend thrust Peterlee into second spot in the fledgling Division Two table, and with a home game to come against Houghton, they look to build on their flying start.
And what a start it was for new signing Lewis Broom – described in his pre-season notes by skipper Paul Griffith as ‘a brilliant upcoming talent’, the former Horden youngster blasted an undefeated century.
The captain, who missed the match, is back in for this one, as are Dave Garraghan and youngster Joe Spalding.
Houghton put out the same team who lost out to Whiteleas last week in a game where 18 wickets fell while just 171 runs were scored.
Marsden head the table after wins in both their opening games, and they will be favourites to make it three from three when they entertain a Silksworth team currently propping up the rest.
The leaders are almost back to full strength with the return of Lee Bays from injury, Paul Hobson from football and new signing Paul Cook set to debut.
Alex Nichol is expected to miss the next four weeks as he recovers from a fractured finger.
In the day’s other second tier games, Ryhope have Dave Gilbert and Connor Cheal available again, although a knee injury sidelines Liam Stores, and James Summerside is working, so they miss the home match with Langley Park.
Boldon CA select promising young batsman James Patterson for the game against Littletown, and Whiteleas have vice-captain Steve Martin back in harness when they host Evenwood.