Eppleton are enjoying a really good season in the Premier Division, according to director of cricket John Smithson, but even so, will take nothing for granted against Felling on Saturday.
“Felling are bottom of the table with just one win in 12 games and will be desperate for points in their fight against relegation.
“A couple of weeks ago they defeated Newcastle who at the time were second-top. That result proved – if proof was needed – that there are no easy games in this league.
“We need to keep our good form going. Everybody is chipping in with runs and wickets and we are happy to be in a comfortable mid-table position.
“But we will have to work hard to get a result,” declared Smithson who announces that the same team which was on duty last week will travel to Felling.
The Tynesiders are very much involved in a battle against relegation, 25 points behind second-bottom South Shields, but spokesman Anthony Trotter is optimistic.
He said: “We have played better recently and have reached the final of the T20 competition but we need to put points on the board, starting against Eppleton.
“One thing’s for sure, it won’t be an easy game but captain Stuart Walker will have a near full strength side on duty. The only absentee is Anthony Trotter, who is struggling with an injury and he’s replaced by Mike Malthouse”.
Third-top Chester-le-Street host Newcastle who are immediately above them with 10 more points.
Chairman Keith Robson says John Coxon’s side is having a reasonably good season, challenging to do better in the second half of the campaign.
“There are a lot of points to play for so we are still in the running for the title, although leaders South Northumberland are 56 points in front of us,” observed Robson, who is also chairman of the league.
“The league continues to succeed at all levels and teams in Division One are fighting to get promoted. We are managing to get most of the cup finals played on time and overall the competition is going forward in a strong position.”
Newcastle are second, 46 points adrift of South North and are looking forward to playing at Ropery Lane.
“We’ve had mixed fortunes lately, losing to Felling but then beating Eppleton when we took six late wickets.
“Captain Jacques Du Toit may have a Durham player available which would be a big boost for what should be a good game at Chester-le-Street,” said Director of Cricket Doug Hudson.
Durham Academy host Tynemouth at the Riverside in the knowledge that a win could see them improve on a current fifth-from-top rating.
Coach John Windows is set to field an unchanged side following an impressive performance last Saturday.
Top-six side Hetton Lyons are at home to Whitburn who are near the bottom of the table with just three wins to their credit.
Lyons’ captain Jarvis Clay expects Josh Coghlin to return, enabling him to field his strongest line-up.
“I’m looking to do the double over them and maintain our good position,” said Clay.
The Villagers will be at full strength, with Paul Davison, Brydon Carse and Andy Turns taking over from Lee Henderson, Luke Smith and Ian Elliot.
“We are hoping to perform with confidence and earn a positive result but our recent form has been very much hit and miss,” said opener Dan Shurben who was a prolific scorer when he played for his home village club, Burnmoor.
Leaders South Northumberland, the only unbeaten side, start favourites against out-of-sorts South Shields who have won only three times and are involved in a relegation battle.
The remaining Premier Division fixture sees Benwell Hill host Stockton.
In the First Division, Burnmoor take on Boldon who are challenging Sacriston for top spot.
A huge boost for the home side is the news that Gareth Harte, Ross Hodgson and Paul Craig come back into a full-strength line-up.
“Boldon defeated us earlier in the season so it’s a bit of a crunch match but on home soil, we are confident of giving them a good game,” said secretary Ian Linsley, a former first team opening batsman.
Sacriston have come a long way from the days when they were in the now defunct North West Durham League.
After joining the then Tyneside Senior League, they were admitted into the First Division of the Premier League when it was launched in 2013.
Since then, they have made steady progress and now have their sights set on the pinnacle of North East cricket.
“We are 53 points ahead of our nearest rivals Boldon going into the game at Gateshead Fell.
“It will be a tough match because they’ll probably have Durham’s Graham Onions in the side but with Daniel Anderson, Nathan Hall and Reece Carr back, we are confident of extending our unbeaten sequence,” enthused official Iain Bestford.
Sacriston take huge credit from the fact that they promote home grown talent. Ten of last week’s team came through the junior ranks, the only exception being the former Durham County player Graeme Bridge.
Sacriston, however, cannot name one of their most talented youngsters. Johnny Bushnell is in Sri Lanka with Durham School but fortunately Callum Appleby returns after recovering from a broken finger.
Seaham Harbour need a good points haul from their game at Burnopfield as they struggle at the bottom of the pile. They are the only team yet to win and are nine points adrift of second-bottom Mainsforth, who will no doubt find it difficult at Brandon.
At one time, Ashbrooke was the ‘Lord’s’ of North East cricket when Sunderland were the king pins in the former Durham Senior League.
But things have changed and they now play in the second tier with virtually no chance of returning to the top flight.
On the other hand, Washington have progressed from the Durham Coast League and will be confident when the sides meet at Ashbrooke,