Murton face up to another huge test

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NEXT one please! After seeing off closest rivals Easington last weekend, 3D Durham Coast League table-toppers Murton now face the new kids on the second-placed block when they entertain Dawdon on Saturday.

In a strange twist of fixture list fate, Easington’s defeat dropped them into third place, with Dawdon moving above them to become Murton’s closest challengers.

If the leaders can string together back to back wins against their title rivals, it will put them in a terrific position to tie up the championship in the seven-game run-in to follow.

But Dawdon are likely to provide formidable opposition. After pulling off a great derby victory against Seaham Park with a heavily depleted side last time out, the Green Drive men will not lack confidence, particularly when leading players Mark Ewart, Ryan Consitt and the Purewals twins – Amar and Arjun – are all set to return.

Jamie Greenwood is the only absentee against a full-strength Murton line-up.

Easington fell 33 points behind their conquerors last week, but they are realistically the only other team still in with a real shout of catching the leaders.

Their cause has been boosted by the acquisition of Scott Birks from Blackhall – he made his debut last week and will be joined in this week’s side to play at Peterlee by the returning Jason Moses.

That game is one of several derbies.

Silksworth hope that their home fortunes will change this weekend as they prepare to entertain local rivals Ryhope.

Silksworth have only played two home matches all season, a big disappointment because they have missed one special home comfort with skipper Paul Smailes indicating that “our tea lady, Tracey Lobban, spoils us with the best teas in the league”.

The hosts will be hoping to both have their cake and eat it this time, with Darren Stoker and Michael Nicholson back from sunnier climes, and Paul Bradford set to make his seasonal debut.

It’s one Lawrence in and one out for Ryhope – Chris returns and replaces Micky Thorpe, while Scott is absent with his place taken by David Hughes, who has scored freely for the seconds.

Seaham Park’s title chances would now appear remote – to make up 56 points in just eight games is a tall order. But they have a chance to recover pride on Saturday when they take on the team just six points below them in the table, Washington.

Park have to reckon without Uzair Afaq for the next month, while Thomas Ferguson is away, so Michael Evans and Dave Moorhead earn call-ups. Washington have Jak Gaff and Andrew Ebdale back from holiday.

Bill Quay are able to welcome Neil Cuskeran back for his seasonal debut – he is on leave from merchant navy duty and possibly thinks he will be stepping on to dry land, but he hasn’t seen the Quay ground in recent weeks!

To keep the sea-faring analogies going, he should feel at home as his Quay side are at unchanged Seaham Harbour on Saturday.

Unchanged Boldon CA take on Hylton, who make just one change with Owen Williamson back from holiday.