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Big weekend in the DCL
It's the biggest weekend of the summer in the Readers Durham Cricket League with a set of crucial league matches being followed by tomorrow's inaugural F15 Cup finals day at Crook.
The League's only cup competition has been running on a group basis, and the semi-final line-up sees Whiteleas taking on Castle Eden at 11am, and then host club Crook playing Burnmoor in the second match at 1.45pm. The winners meet in the final at 4.30pm
Before that comes a set of crucial league games as the penultimate fixtures of the season take place this afternoon. And it seems things are getting a bit edgy at the top of the tree where, after a number of recounts, Esh Winning are now deemed to hold a one point lead over Burnmoor.
Esh chairman of selectors Kevin Carmedy tried to play down his team's chances, when he issued this statement: "We make Burnmoor clear favourites because they are a big club with players who have played at a much higher level than the Esh players, and now they are being helped with divine intervention by the weather and extremely generous declarations.''
His is at full strength today with the return of Paul Rayner, but they have to negotiate a testing trip to free-scoring Philadelphia.
The Bunker Hill side have only lost on two occasions this summer, and they have David Baxter returning to the team.
Burnmoor's task is no less difficult. They entertain a full strength Dawdon outfit that held Esh back on Monday and who have something to play for as they strive to confirm a top 14 placing. The Moor are also able to select from a full complement of players following the return of Paul Davidson.
The battle for promotion is intense, with 24 points covering six teams in mid-table, and two of those to be disappointed.
Durham City have come from nowhere after an unbeaten run of ten games and now they are in with a great chance of making the final leap into a top 14 slot. They have two difficult final matches to contend with, a home game against Castle Eden followed next week by a trip to Esh Winning.
Unchanged Crook Town take on Whiteleas, Marsden include Patrick Jackson for the working Michael Gandy when they host Shildon, a full strength Horden play same again Hylton, and Mainsforth have to reckon without Robert Chismon so select Vinnie Gash for the trip to Ushaw Moor.
Consett's NTSL survival fight goes on at Leadgate today, the two sides enjoying contrasting fortunes.
The home team haven't won in four while Consett have picked up two wins in their last three which have also included a decent draw, and with a game in hand on the teams above them, and Gareth Breese able to contribute, the pressure will be on the team just five points above them, Percy Main.
The Main face a difficult trip to Shotley Bridge where Graeme Angus and Lewis Hall return to the home dressing room.
Annfield Plain's push for the runners-up spot should get another 20 point boost as they play at relegated Lintz, while a full-strength Swalwell aim to edge ever closer to a seventh consecutive title when they entertain a Tynedale team which should include Johnny Meadows enabling Gary Cant to return to his scoring duties.