Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North-East Premier League

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North-East Premier League

Article excerpt

Byline: By Malcolm Pratt

Despite being 36 points adrift of leaders South Northumberland, captain Tony Birbeck still believes Chester-le-Street can make an impact on the race for the championship.

"We have come through our bad patch when we lost to South North and to Philadelphia. We have played well recently and it is a very tight league this year. If we can maintain our form, who knows, we may yet have a chance," declared Birbeck who has a full squad to choose from for this morning's visit to Gateshead Fell.

Judging by the way they have played recently though, South North will take some stopping. They have Martin Speight returning to John Graham's side for the game at Newcastle and Durham's Neil Killeen is also expected to play.

Australian Ryan Philimore will captain Newcastle in the absence of Wayne Ritzema who has been in charge all season because of the enforced absence of Neil Wake.

Matthew Hynd and Alex Brown resume with John Hurford and James Bailey dropping down into the 2nd XI.

Sunderland secretary Mike Smith admits that his side would need a miracle to end in pole position after falling down the pecking order in recent weeks.

The one-time leaders could again be without strike bowlers Stuart Pattison and Adam Applegarth at Norton.

Norton have pencilled in Sherwin Campbell to play his first game. He had been expected to make his debut last weekend and captain Kenny Gresham did not hide his disappointment when the West Indian Test star was unable to take his place.

"It was a lot of hard work putting the deal together and we were all looking forward to Sherwin playing at Chester le Street. His commitments with Lashings have to come first, of course, and he would have needed to leave Chester le Street before the anticipated finishing time.

"Hopefully, he will turn out this morning but it looks as if it is going to be a last minute decision every week," said Gresham who cannot call upon Simon Hawk, who has returned to his home in the South. …

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