THE second bank holiday weekend of the summer beckons for NYSD teams, with today’s league clashes being followed by the traditional derby day on Monday.
Perhaps one of the most eagerly awaited clashes of recent times takes place at Park Drive in two day’s time with Hartlepool playing host to local neighbours Seaton Carew for the first ever time in a Premier Division match, and there is sure to be a big crowd for this historic occasion.
After earning their first promotion in dramatic style at the end of last season the games with Pool have been a regular topic of conversation at Seaton over the long winter months. And there is additional importance attaching to the match for the new boys as, after the euphoria of an opening day win, the reality of the task facing them has become more apparent with four defeats in five games edging them closer to the danger zone.
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Seaton begin their double header at Hornby Park this afternoon where Stokesley are the visitors. This is also something of a nostalgic game as the two sides have always enjoyed a strong relationship since their days as dominant forces in the old B Division, so it will be interesting to compare notes for the first time in the top flight.
Stokesley will arrive in confident mood, the blip at Feethams a fortnight ago put well and truly behind them with a comprehensive victory last time out which moved them into a clear second spot in the table. And they have been boosted by the unexpected return of one of their leading players, Will Brown, for the rest of the summer. It wasn’t so much a case of ‘around the world in 80 days’ as around the world in two days, with his whistle-stop tour of Australia ended somewhat prematurely and no further antipodean adventures planned in the forseeable future.
The home team are forced into several changes over the weekend with Gareth Spence and Danny Thomas out today and being replaced by Kevin Rowntree and Callum Atkinson. Vice skipper Spence returns for the short journey to Park Drive on Monday where hosts Hartlepool have to reckon without Mike Yuill who suffered a broken finger while fielding in the last game, an injury that will sideline him for a few weeks.
Pools begin their weekend with a trip to Sedgefield, but Alan Tebbett and Jon Mitchell will also be missing so Chris Smith, Anthony Fawcett and Dan Shurmer are promoted. Tebbett and Mitchell return for Monday’s derby. Mark Davies continues to be an injury doubt for the home team, but they do have Luke Henderson back from Durham School to bolster their ranks along with keeper Justin Preston.
Stokesley round their bank holiday off with an SCG game against rivals Great Ayton, the teams currently separated by just 10 points. It’s a tough double for the Aytonians who begin with a Leven Park match up with Marton. David Grainge misses that one through work commitments, with Sam Harper deputizing, but he does return for the derby.
Marton, already shorn of their overseas professional, have additional problems with key all-rounder Neil Russell suffering a calf injury that is likely to sideline him for up to a month. He is replaced by Matt Hutchinson for this game, while former Durham star John Glendenen makes another debut for the club on Monday when they have a little local affair against Middlesbrough to contend with. Glendenen has returned to the Teessiders after a year helping Marske extricate themselves from Division One.
Boro begin with an important home game against Redcar. The two sides start the match tied on points at the foot of the table, although the winless Acklam Park outfit began to show their true colours last Sunday when they really should have polished off hosts Guisborough after reaching the final over of the match with just five needed for victory and three wickets in hand, but they managed just three and the match was drawn.
With Redcar’s Steve Hutchinson and Michael Rix out of today’s game, and skipper Tom Urwin and Sam Berry missing on Monday, Tim Hood makes a rare appearance and Steve Lee also plays in both matches, the second of which is a seaside tussle with close rivals Saltburn who will have a new signing on display. Jack Conway has joined brother Dan at the club, and he will debut in today’s opener against Barnard Castle, although skipper Steve Purcifer misses out on the joy of captaining the side as he’s at a wedding.
Barney, powering along in joint fourth place, have a full squad at their disposal for both games, the second of which is against champions Richmondshire in yet another bank holiday blockbuster. The Dalesmen, in third, are settling down after the late arrival of Shani Dissanayake, and their only team issues revolve around the rotation of their younger players, with 18-year-old Rob West getting his opportunity this weekend.
In other team news across a hectic three days Marske are on the road twice, going to Hurgill Road today and then Fountains Garth on Monday, but they do so without Joe Wing who has had an appendix operation and will be missing indefinitely, while table-toppers Darlington will be missing Matty Brown for the Feethams game with Guisborough, although James Dobson returns.