DARLINGTON travel to Acklam Park tomorrow seeking to extend their lead at the top of the Premier Division, and given they are playing the side who currently prop up the rest then the odds would appear to be heavily stacked in their favour.
But a cup result earlier this week may just have sparked Middlesbrough’s season into life, with a sensational last over earning a dramatic victory for them at Park Drive against hosts Hartlepool.
The Macmillan T20 cup clash saw Boro needing 21 to win from the last over, and when 20 of those runs came from the blade of skipper James Lowe (92 not out from 80 balls) from the first five balls, he was astute enough to block the final delivery to claim victory for his team who had lost one fewer wicket than their opponents.
On such things a season can turn, and with the return of Paul Johnston to the team Boro will be at full strength for the visit of the league leaders. The highflying Quakers have to make a couple of enforced changes, with Matty Brown away and Sam Hardy working, so Callum Lethbridge and Matty Wheeler earn call-ups.
Over at Richmond it’s fourth versus third, with the champions hosting in-form Stokesley. As well as being ten points adrift of tomorrow’s opponents the Dalesmen trail Darlington by 36 points and whilst there are still 16 games to go, it’s an important game for the title holders as they bid for a hattrick of championships.
Barnard Castle rose to second in the table on the back of victory against Hartlepool last Sunday. Although they have now played a game more than the teams around them a home win tomorrow against a Redcar team that have won just once so far would confirm their credentials.
Marton have clawed their way up to fifth on the ladder, and with plenty of time to mount a challenge they will be keen to continue a run of form which has seen them win their last three in a row. They go to Windy Hill Lane where hosts Marske are missing Josh Carroll, and so the hosts hand a debut to under- 17’s bowler Charlie Helm.
The Teessiders have a full squad to choose from although their new overseas man, Umega Chaturanga, is not expected to arrive in the country until next week.
The Marc Symington saga goes on at Hartlepool. It had been feared that the skipper would miss the rest of the season due to a cruciate ligament injury, but that is possibly not the case as the club await news of a scan. John Rickard returns in the game at Saltburn, although with Neil Coverdale unavailable Nicky Rathbone and James Piper, retain their places.
In other team news Great Ayton have David Grainge and Josh Thompson back, and they slot into the places vacated by the unavailable Chris Witherley and Matt Wilkinson for the Leven Park meeting with a Sedgefield side who are still unable to call on Mark Davies as he continues his battle for full fitness down in Kent.
Guisborough are without Martin Hood as the Priorymen go to Seaton Carew for their first ever top flight game at Hornby Park.