Darlington Building Society NYSD ECB Premier League

BARNARD CASTLE go to Acklam Park tomorrow to complete the most memorable fortnight in the history of the 182-year old club.

Already looking assured of their highest ever placing in the Premier Division, they won their first ever piece of major silverware at the end of July when they defeated Stokesley to claim the Kerridge Cup, and then followed that up with quarter and semifinal wins in the Teesside University NYSD Fifteens competition to line up another major day out for the August bank holiday finals.

The manner of their semi-final win over local neighbours and rivals Richmondshire on Wednesday night demonstrated their new-found confidence as they held their nerve against the league champions to come out on top by just two runs in a contest where over 300 were scored in 30 overs of batting mayhem.

Their inspiration on the night was Aamer Sajjad who has had a slow cooker of a season, the first-class world record holder coming to the boil over the last month or so after simmering gently in the rain-soaked opening weeks. He hit 98 in Barney’s cup win to take him past the 600 mark, with more than 500 of those coming in the last two months, and he will present a major threat on finals day when Barney will meet short format cup kings Great Ayton.

Before that there is the little matter of gathering more league points, and a clear measure of their heightened status is the fact that they will start tomorrow’s game against one of the league’s giants as clear favourites.

Middlesbrough have endured a difficult season and despite a four game unbeaten run, their best sequence of the summer, they are still just 14 points above the drop zone. Paul Johnston will be back for this one, as will Mike Cook, whilst Callum Buckley will be free from Academy duties and will also line-up.

It’s getting to the stage where Fifteens Finals day has a “reserved for Great Ayton” sticker attached to it, the village club, who already hold the record for the most number of wins, are progressing to their sixth final in seven years when tipping league leaders Darlington out of the competition earlier this week.

But before that they have a little trip to Burnley on Sunday where they will represent the league in the national T20 area finals, the winner of which will progress to the last eight where they will be one game away from an appearance on Sky TV in the televised finals day in September.

In the championship stakes Darlington continue their quest for the title with a home game against Hartlepool.

The Quakers are able to bring Jonny Barnes back into the action after resting his creaking bones in the midweek cup tie.

Richmondshire will give a late fitness test to Mike Layfield ahead of their home game against Guisborough.Stokesley expect to be unchanged for their trip to Sedgefield where the home team will probably have to do without sub-pro Calum MacLeod given Durham’s two Royal London Cup matches yesterday and also on Sunday.