NE Premier League: Davidson a doubt as Eppleton gear up for long-awaited Lyons derby

Durham Academy line up ahead of last week's game at Whitburn. Back, from left:  John Windows (coach), Chris McBride, Josh Coughlin, Asher Hart, Sam Dinning, Ross Greenwell. Front: Matthew Potts, Alistair Appleby, Eddie Hurst, Liam Trevaskis, Will Angus.
Durham Academy line up ahead of last week's game at Whitburn. Back, from left: John Windows (coach), Chris McBride, Josh Coughlin, Asher Hart, Sam Dinning, Ross Greenwell. Front: Matthew Potts, Alistair Appleby, Eddie Hurst, Liam Trevaskis, Will Angus.
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After the problems encountered by Hetton Lyons and Eppleton in their opening fixtures last weekend, a local derby now looms that has suddenly taken on additional importance.

Eppleton’s promotion to the top flight paved the way for the local rivalry that has always existed to come into sharper focus, with Lyons preparing to host the very first Premier clash between the two clubs.

Lyons did pretty well in the first innings of their game at Stockton, bowling their hosts out for just 136, but then their batting imploded as they were bundled out for just 97.

The five points they took from the match was just one less than Eppleton took from their drawn home game against Newcastle, the stalemate being one-sided with the Tynesiders well on top but unable to dislodge Eppleton’s last pair despite having 12 overs at them.

That never-say-die spirit should serve Eppleton well in the more rarified atmosphere of a derby, but they may have to take on their rivals without Paul Davidson, who aggravated a back injury while bowling last week.

At the moment, he is rated as doubtful, but at least Paul Coughlin came through his outing well and, with further mileage on his clock after another game with Durham’s second team this week, he could be their key player.

Lyons are waiting for news on their own Durham player, Brydon Carse, who has been featuring in the first team, but other than that they are at full strength, with new overseas man Faiz Fazal, who impressed on his debut, already proving his likely value to the team.

Another team who had a difficult opening day were Chester-le-Street, who suffered a surprise home defeat at the hands of Benwell Hill.

They go to Wood Terrace to take on a South Shields team buoyed by the demolition job they carried out at Gateshead Fell.

Tim David and Gordon Muchall made the perfect start to their personal seasons with impressive centuries, and they are set to feature again.

Another batsman who was in form for the Shieldsmen, Michael Dunn, misses this one after contributing an unbeaten 49 in the victory romp and seam bowler Chris Stewart is drafted in to replace him.

The Cestrians keep faith with the same 11.

Whitburn, fourth in the fledgling table after their home victory over Durham Academy, are at Newcastle and skipper Ross Carty is delighted he can put out on unchanged team at Jesmond.

He suggested that his side are ‘raring to go’, but he faces tough opponents who were a little unlucky not to force the win at Eppleton after the fading light necessitated them bowling their spinners as they pressed to take the final wicket that would have secured the victory.

As with Whitburn, Newcastle are also able to put out the ‘same again’ signs.

Durham Academy are fielding one of their youngest teams in years, and it is almost inevitable that they will endure some more difficult days as the season unfolds.

Even though they have the advantage of playing at the Emirates Riverside, this weekend’s opponents, South North, are unlikely to hand out any favours as they go in search of yet another championship.

Two teams who recorded opening-day wins clash at Denton Bank when Benwell Hill entertain Stockton, while Gateshead Fell are at home again, with Tynemouth the visitors to Eastwood Gardens.