Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Northumberland Leagues

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Northumberland Leagues

Article excerpt


HAVING gained a one-point advantage at the top of the Wellstream NTSL last week, Shotley Bridge know they now have the fate of the championship entirely in their own hands.

It sounds simple enough, but outright wins in their remaining five league games will mean they will be crowned champions for the first time since 2002.

However, a glance at the remaining fixtures suggests today's match at Sacriston will be their toughest assignment of the lot, with their hosts enjoying a fine season themselves, including a run of six wins in the last seven matches where play has taken place. Bridge do expect to be unchanged again, but Sacriston are unsure whether Gordon Muchall will feature for them after the county championship match at Old Trafford. But they do have Harry Hubber back in the team.

The importance of professional Nicky Phillips to the Swalwell cause was highlighted by their inability to pick up maximum bowling points last time out. But Phillips, the league's leading wicket taker, returns for the match at Benwell and Walbottle today. The champions will not give up their title lightly, and expect to be at full strength. At the opposite end of the table, Ryton are not far from the stage of having relegation mathematically confirmed. And with skipper Paul Watson having suddenly left the club to return to his old team Stocksfield, and Graeme Rowell and Neil Robinson missing, the trip to Ashington today looks daunting.

While Rowell will take over as skipper for the rest of the campaign, David Bailey takes the reins today against the Colliers, who have to reckon without Michael Thewlis and Chris Watson. However, Ian Sharkey returns to the side and a first team debut is handed to 15-year-old medium pacer Callum Storey.

Elsewhere, Steve Knight and Paddy Rathbone get their chance for Percy Main with Dave Tweed and Mal Clarke absent for the match at unchanged Leadgate, Tynedale entertain an increasingly safe Lintz, and Annfield Plain include Phil Donnelly for the visit of Morpeth. …

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