ASHINGTON have the chance to consolidate their flying start to the NTSL season when they travel to bottom club Leadgate this afternoon.

But while the home team do prop up the rest at the moment, that is perhaps a misleading position as Leadgate have suffered a frustrating start to their campaign with their opening match at Burnopfield postponed because of delays in final completion of the new ground, and their second game at home to Alnmouth being the only victim of the weather last week.

Waterlogging was the problem on that occasion, and with the forecast distinctly unpromising for today there is the threat of even more frustration. Ashington’s fortunes could not be more different. Promoted at the end of last season they have flown out of the traps with two impressive wins, although they will be missing one of their match winning heroes as Callum Storey, who claimed six wickets in the defeat of Lanchester, is unavailable. Fortunately skipper Greg Williams makes a timely return.

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Annfield Plain are nestled just behind the Colliers in a group of five teams separated by just a single point, but their stock could not be higher as the one game they have played resulted in an emphatic defeat of multi-title winning Swalwell. That impressive victory came last Saturday by a margin of 91 runs, and today they hope to be the team to help christen the Burnopfield ground subject to it being ready.

Burnopfield skipper Adam Tinnion said on Tuesday: ‘We are meant to be getting the keys to the ground tomorrow, but that has been the case for three weeks now.’ If the game does go ahead Steve Allen comes into the pristine home dressing room in place of Jack Lovell, while the Plain have named the same eleven who performed so well against the champions.

After suffering that defeat Swalwell would no doubt have preferred a less demanding fixture than a meeting with Shotley Bridge, but they do have home advantage. Both teams show faith in the same teams, despite the vastly differing fortunes they encountered last time out.

In today’s other top flight games Ponteland keep faith with the side that lost heavily to Bridge when they travel to Lanchester, their hosts make one change with Kieron Taylor replacing Lee Murray. With Callum Batey tied up with exams Simon Poole is promoted to the Alnmouth side for their home game against Tynedale who have to reckon without Richard Darling, and Consett bring in Robbie Winn to replace Simon Wilkinson for the trip to Ryton.