The halfway stage has unearthed some exciting fixtures, as the fight continues to win the title and to avoid relegation.

At the wrong end of the league, bottom club Bishop Auckland take on Seaton Carew at home, after both beat tough opposition in Thornaby and Darlington last weekend.

Bishops have Darren Blenkiron in for Gary Burlinson, who has decided to return to his old club Eppleton. Skipper Scott Oldfield said: “The lads are on a high and full of confidence after two wins in our last three games and hope to carry the momentum into this game.”

Seaton hold a 25-point advantage over Bishops, and hope to make it back to back wins. Stuart Lobb, David Seymour and Martin Skirving, all return to bolster the batting and bowling.

Marske are 12 points above Bishop Auckland, and travel to Darlington, boosted by the return of Lee Hodgson and skipper Chris Veazey said: “It’s another tough game and we are in need of the points, after a few bad results of late and we need to step up to the plate.”

Darlington are without wicketkeeper Andrew Sturgeon, with Adam Baldwin replacing him.

Marton and Hartlepool sit just above the bottom two and have difficult fixtures, at home to the top two - Barnard Castle and Great Ayton. Marton make one change with Ben Hutchinson returning for Tom Hustwitt.

Barney have one change from last week, Josh Bousfield will replace Finn Usher. Skipper James Quinn said: “We have a tough trip to Marton this week, after a brilliant win against Stokesley, we want to take our home form on our travels. The lads are full of confidence and are keen to get on a roll.”

Leaders Great Ayton go to Park Drive and the home side make two changes, John Watson and Ben Smith in for James Piper and Ollie Mole.

Michael Gough snr said: “It was an excellent victory last Saturday against Marske, with a brilliant batting performance by our professional James Lowe, in scoring a century and also an outstanding spell of bowling by Mark Davies who bowled 15 overs and returned figures of 3-29.”

“Great Ayton have hit a great winning run and are full of match winners. They also have a very good blend of options in both batting and bowling and it would take a brave man to bet against them not being title winners again this season.”

Ayton David Grainge, Andrew Liddle and Steve Pennock back, but Joe Marsay is away, with Nasar Hussain missing out.

Richmondshire, in third, host fourth-placed Thornaby and following last week’s five-wicket defeat at Middlesbrough, the Dalesmen will be looking to get their title challenge back on track.

Skipper Gary Pratt said: “Rob West out injured and Dale Marshall comes into the team. We didn’t bowl well last week and deserved to lose the game.”

Thornaby make a couple of changes to last week’s team, with Jonathan Rickard in for James Roberts and Lewis Beaumont in for Daniel Burns. Skipper Paul Allen said: “I am not sure if complacency is creeping into the team with being in the top four, but we must perform better than last Saturday.

“It was by far the worst performance of the season to date, I expect every player to train hard and bounce back stronger.”

Stokesley in fifth spot, welcome Middlesbrough in sixth position. The North Yorkshire outfit last week had a 77-run defeat at Barnard Castle.

Boro make one change, after a deserved win last Saturday over Richmondshire. Siraj Ahmed is in for Harry Williams in the bowling attack.

They tomorrow entertain Darlington in the Kerridge Cup semi-final, with Richard Knaggs replacing Adil Ditta and Harry Williams returning for Siraj Ahmed.

On Monday evening, the NYSD League representative team take on the Durham T20 first team at Park Drive, with the match played with white balls and black sightscreens.

Admission is free and Durham coach Jon Lewis said: “We’ll be taking the game very seriously, we’re expecting to come up against a very good side.”

NYSD team: Andrew Weighell (Stokesley Cptn), Paul Braithwaite (Seaton Carew), Liam Coates (Darlington), Lewis Harper (Thornaby), Pitigala Jeewantha (Great Ayton), Mike Layfield (Richmondshire), James Middleton (Middlesbrough, Keeper), Aamir Sajjad (Marton), Steve Reeves (Middlesbrough), Shrikant Wagh (Stokesley), Jonny Weighell (Stokesley). 12th Man: Daniel Chillingworth (Stokesley).