It’s the halfway stage of the season, in the Darlington Building Society NYSD ECB Premier League, with Middlesbrough holding a 17-point lead at the top, having played a game more than anyone else. They visit Barnard Castle who had a setback in their title ambitions last week, losing to Richmondshire.

Barney skipper James Quinn said: “After two league defeats in a row for ourselves, this is a must-win game to bridge the gap. We make one change to last week’s side, as wicket keeper Phil Merryweather is unavailable, so young Max Martin comes in to replace him.”

Boro skipper Matthew Bell said: “We make three changes to the team, with Nathan Bell, Sam Harper and Gopal Singh all in for the unavailable trio of Sam Gaudie, Cole Pearce and Clarke Doughney.”

Champions Richmondshire visit Feethams to play Darlington. Skipper Rob Carr said: “There is one change for us this week, as Owen Kelly returns from holiday and replaces Matty Price after a massive win against Barnard Castle last weekend, which allowed us to leap-frog them into second place.”

Hartlepool welcome back pace bowler Matty Adamson for their game, at home to Saltburn. Yash Vagadia also makes a return to the batting and bowling attack. Secretary Mike Gough said: “In our last game, we had sound innings from Josh Tribeck, George Relton and Gareth Shaw, to ensure we achieved a good haul of points when we were in big trouble in our innings.”

Gough added: “Saltburn have just signed Indian cricketer Vishant More, who comes with a very good reputation as a batsmen and we are expecting a tough encounter, as we approach the middle of the season.”

Marton recorded their first win of the season last weekend, but make one change for the game at home to Great Ayton. Jacob Swan returns for Chris Veasey. Skipper Alex Wardell said: “We fully deserved the win at Saltburn last time out and we aim to carry that extra confidence gained, into this weekend’s game.”

Stokesley entertain Stockton at the SCG, but without Tom Preece who is away on holiday. Secretary Mark Smith said: “We are in good spirits after back to back wins, but Tom Preece and three others are away on holiday, so some second team players are drafted in. Last week’s man of the match Harry Harding will be hoping his good form continues.”

Visiting veteran Leigh Beaumont said: “Johnathan Rickard is available this week and returns for the unavailable Adam Beaumont, in our only change.”

Thornaby host Billingham Synthonia, with both teams striving to regain some form. The home side have not won in three games, while Synners have drawn their last four, making themselves difficult to beat.

In Division One, league leaders Bishop Auckland with an 18-point lead, journey to Seaton Carew. The hosts have two wins under their belts from their last three games. Bishops meanwhile are unbeaten, with nine wins and a draw from their 10 games so far this season and this will be a big test for the Seasiders.

Darlington RA are in second place, following a good win over Normanby Hall last weekend. They welcome Marton (2nds) to Brinkburn Road, who have won three of their first 10 games and will be looking for a good result, to push themselves away from the bottom two.