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Winning ways in League Cup final
Esh Winning laid down a clear marker with their emphatic victory over Crook in last week's League Cup final.
The League champions made it two Hunter Cummings Memorial Trophy wins in three years when they overcame Town by 40 runs despite having to play on their opponent's home ground.
Club spokesman Kevin Carmedy was delighted: "The game was reduced to 28 overs per side so we thought we'd done pretty well to total 179 against a good attack.
"Dave Lawlor (69) batted really well, but nearly everyone chipped in, and when we got their two openers out cheaply we were well on top.
"Their Aussie (Clive Rose) and our former player Chris Hurst then looked like they might get them back into the game, but with all of our bowlers on form we weren't going to let it slip. It was an all-round team effort, but I should mention young Jon Hodgson who has been excellent all season.''
With the League Cup won, Esh can concentrate on making it a double, and they put their 21-point lead on the line at Tudhoe today in the final match before the table splits in two, their opponents needing just a point to ensure they also finish in the top five.
Crook need to recover their composure quickly if they are to threaten, but they could have done with an easier fixture as defeat at second-placed Willington today would almost certainly end their chances of league glory.
At least Town have a full complement available, while their hosts are missing several key players with Gary and Ryan Cummings away and John Nuttall missing. James Stock returns.
Brandon have a chance to finish in the top five if results go their way, and they show two changes for their game at Langley Park with Chris Winn and Craig Hewitt replaced by Dean Crampton and Sean Green.
Park are in good spirits after their second team won the Division B championship for the first time, and they have one in and one out with Jamie Winn back and Stephen Gray working.
Unchanged Evenwood entertain a Mainsforth side that includes Mark Snowdon and Ian Thompson, while Michael Roberts and Ben Wilson are back for Shildon when they play Ushaw Moor.