Tynedale missed a glorious chance to go second in the Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League table last week when they slipped up in their game against Consett, but they have an immediate opportunity to put things right when they entertain runaway leaders Swalwell.
Somebody, some day, must surely stop the Swalwell steamroller, and on paper this match represents the champions toughest remaining assignment in the first half of a season that they have so far dominated completely.
The Hexham outfit currently lie third in the table and, as with last year, they have relied heavily on skipper Tom Cant for their inspiration. He is far and away their leading wicket-taker with 20 league victims, and also tops their batting averages, but his team will need more than one person to come to the party if they are to upset the table-toppers.
Tynedale have to reckon without Glen Caygill for this one, but Jack Palmer does return to face the unchanged visitors.
Second-placed Burnopfield need Tynedale to do them a favour if the already yawning 31-point gap is to be hauled back, but they face their own significant test when they travel to fourth-placed Lanchester, who are capable of beating anybody on their day. Matthew Callaghan replaces Simon Tweedy in the home dressing room for this one.
At the opposite end of the table, the relegation clock continues to tick for Lintz, and they are not likely to find any favours at Annfield Plain, where the home team have Phil Shield, Kieran Gohery and Stuart Newton back this week.
Ryton have home advantage against Ponteland as they try to extricate themselves from the bottom two, Joe Harms moving up to replace Peter Moore and the visitors expecting pace bowler Iffi Iftikhar to be available to add a cutting edge to their attack for the rest of the season.
In the day’s other games, Mickey Phillips and Simon Curtis return to the Percy Main team as they take on a Shotley Bridge line-up missing Graham Brinton, and Paul Hutchinson plays for Leadgate when they go to Consett.
Blagdon Park hope to step up the pressure on Northumberland League leaders Bedlington by winning their home game against Clara Vale, but they have a few absences to contend with.
Park have lost Steve Oxley, who aggravated a groin injury in a midweek cup tie, and they will be missing both their students, Dave Gibson and Ali Clark, with Gibson in the more exotic climes of the Caribbean this weekend. As an incredulous skipper Greig Senior remarked: “Why would anyone want to put Barbados ahead of Blagdon?”
At least Park will have Sean Collins returning from his holidays, with 15-year-old Sam Eyres likely to get a first-team call. And if Park have problems, so to do the Vale as they will go into the match with four first-teamers missing.
Blue Flames haven’t set the world alight yet, and they may have to wait a further week to do so as they play a Berwick side who are back to full strength following the return of Elliott Keenan, Stephen Emery and Soni Bavesh.
The Flames do have Richard Chapman back in harness following his recovery from a knee injury.
Having being overrun by the mighty hordes of Bedlington last week, Kirkley resume against same-again Ashington RCC with five changes hitting their preparations. Notable ‘outs’ are bowlers Scott Kane and Steve Foster along with third best all-rounder Will Asher, while the ‘ins’ include Steve Atkinson, Chris Rowe, Craig Johnson and Jonny and Alex Ball.
It’s Las Vegas for Matthew Walton, Amsterdam for Robbie Elliott and work for Martin Golightly, so in come Andre Doyle, Andrew Lamb and Dave Robinson for Bates Cottages when they take on Tillside, who turn out the same XI for the first time this summer.