HETTON Lyons host Sunderland on Saturday with both teams keen to earn a victory that would possibly lift them into the top half of Dukes North East Premier League table.
After three games, both sides were looking good and enjoying life in the upper reaches of the league, but since then they have secured just one win between them – Sunderland’s home victory over Tynemouth last week, which ended a run of four consecutive defeats.
But Lyons will go into the derby showdown without the services of their overseas player, Nick Jones, who has had to give in to the back injury which has been plaguing him for the last few weeks.
His condition is such that he will be flying home to Australia shortly to end a disappointing spell in the country for the young man.
The 19-year-old opening bowler, who hails from Andrew Tye’s Western Australian team Scarborough, has struggled for fitness, playing just the four league games and picking up three wickets.
Lyons are now actively searching for a replacement, but they are not yet in a position to name a substitute so they will turn out an unchanged team for the visit of the Ashbrooke men.
Sunderland’s win last week was both welcome and pleasing – pleasing because it was a real team effort with all four bowlers picking up wickets and then the first six batsmen all topping 20 runs.
With Michael Turns back to strengthen them, they will be looking to kick on from that.
Chester-le-Street demolished fellow high-fliers Blaydon last week, sealing a clear lead at the top of the table, and the Cestrians’ steamroller moves to Stockton this weekend.
Chester go into the game without the unavailable Liam Simpson, so Andrew Bell is drafted in to replace him. Graeme Cessford retains his place following another impressive bowling spell against Blaydon. Stockton, with just one win so far, have let Kirk Rowland move to Marske after playing little active part in their season to date.
Durham Academy enjoyed only their second win of the season against Stockton last week, the youngsters’ powerful performance built on the back of a fabulous knock from Rami Singh, who hit 126 from just 141 balls.
It was his second successive ton and took his tally to 364 so far, at an average of 52, so all eyes will be on South Shields on Saturday to see if he can do the hat-trick against the Wood Terrace strugglers.
Blaydon will hope to bounce back at home to struggling Gateshead Fell, who include Richie Steele and Ross Beeson.
Tynemouth have Barry Stewart out injured so Phil Morse will replace him for the visit of high-flying Newcastle, while full-strength South North entertain local rivals Benwell Hill, who hope to include Will Smith for the missing Ali Maiden.