Top two clash at Heathcoat in Premier Division match of the day
SIDMOUTH and Heathcoat clash at Knightshayes on Saturday in the Premier Division match of the day.
Sidmouth are 40 points clear of Heathcoat at the top of the table with five games and 100 points to go.
A Sidmouth win will make it virtually impossible for anyone to catch them in the final month of the season
Heathcoat are on the back of a four-match unbeaten run which continued last Saturday when they beat Exmouth by seven wickets.
If Heathcoat pull off a win the contest say live for a week or two more.
Brad Barnes, the Heathcoat captain knows a win on its own won’t be enough though.
“Realistically we need Sidmouth to lose two of their last five games,” said Barnes.
“Even if we do win down there we still need someone to do us a favour.”
Sidmouth captain Luke Bess is playing his cards close to his chest ahead of the big game.
“We are looking forward to a big game against a side that’s going well,” said Bess.
Sidmouth will leave it late to name a side as they have doubts over opening batsman Liam Lewis due to injury.
A combination of back and groin problems forced Bess to withdraw from the Devon team that played Oxfordshire at Exeter earlier in the week.
“We are hoping Liam will be ready,” said Bess.
Sidmouth have a lot on this weekend as A Division side Plympton pay a visit on Sunday in the last-four of the Euro Shopper Devon Cup.
The team will be finalised once Saturday’s game is out of the way.
EXETER skipper Miles Lenygon isn’t prepared to concede the Premier Division title to Sidmouth just yet.
Exeter entertain relegation worriers Cornwood on Saturday clinging to hopes of catching Sidmouth.
The odds don’t look great as Sidmouth are 43 points ahead with five games to go.
Exeter, with former Somerset paceman Alfonso Thomas on board this season, were tipped to mount a title push.
It hasn’t gone quite as planned, but Lenygon said that is no reason to give up.
“It is out of our control now and we know Sidmouth have to start losing to let us in,” said Lenygon.
“Losing three on the bounce round half way cost us and we know that.
“Our target is to win our last five games and see where we end up.”
Pace bowler Ollie Sale returns to the side for the game against Cornwood.
Cornwood defeated Exeter by three wickets when the sides met earlier in the season and could do with a repeat outcome.
Losing to Sidmouth last Saturday meant Cornwood traded places with Plymouth in the bottom two.
“After last week’s difficult game we know we are going to have to really fight in every game we play,” said Cornwood captain Elliot Staddon.
“Exeter are a quality side with some top players and we are going to really have to turn up and dig in to get a result.
“There were some brilliant positives with the ball early on last week and we need to keep building on that making sure we work hard during the middle overs and back it up with the bat.”
With Mark Roca and Adam Goodliffe away on holiday, Lee Baker comes in from the 2nd XI and Matt Skeemer returns after injury
BOVEY Tracey are expecting a tougher time at Plymouth than they had against Brixham last time out.
Brixham were skittled out for 63, which Bovey knocked off for the loss of just one wicket.
Bovey aren’t going to win the title this year as they are 63-points behind leaders Sidmouth in mid-table.
Second-bottom Cornwood are a lot closer – the gap is 23 points – so Bovey’s season isn’t over yet.
Recent form favours Bovey as they won by 75 runs when the sides met first time round.
“Plymouth was one of our better games when we played them earlier in the season,” said Bovey captain Sam Hickinbottom.
“I hope we can replicate that performance and kick on from our win last weekend and have a strong finish to the season.”
Plymouth’s win over Torquay last Saturday got them out of the bottom two and gave the club a timely lift.
“We are looking forward to this weekend after our good performance against Torquay,” said Plymouth skipper Sam Stein.
“Everyone played a part in the win which is very positive news, we are looking for more of the same.”
Plymouth have spent all season closer to the bottom than the top, but Stein sees signs of improvement.
“We have a very young side who are working very hard and are improving each week, this can only put us in good stead,” he said.
“Bovey aren't too far away from us in the table, so a good result will allow us to jump further in the table.”
TORQUAY and North Devon meet on the Recreation Ground with the threat of relegation at the back of their minds.
While Cornwood and Plymouth have been trading places in the bottom two all season so far, neither Torquay or North Devon are out of it yet.
North Devon and Torquay are level on 148 points each – 16 clear of the relegation places.
With 100 points to play for, one of the other of tomorrow’s protagonists could get dragged down.
For Torquay skipper Justin Yau, who led the side to the Premier title last season, the threat is a real one.
“It's quite a big game in the grand context of things as neither of us are safe yet and a win should drag us out of it,” said Yau,
“Consistency has been a big problem this year and we must try and string a couple of good results together.
“North Devon must be respected- they are an excellent side and will be tough to beat but we need to use our home advantage as well as we can.”
Barney Huxtable, the North Devon captain, has clearly been reading the same tea leaves.
“The table is so tight at this point that every game counts for pretty much every team,” he said.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of playing Torquay. They are a good unit and play very well together.
“I am hoping to see some real grit and determination for the guys this week to get us back to winning ways. I predict an exciting game.”
Jack Hockin is unavailable which makes room for Joe Kelly who has been scoring runs in the North Devon 2nd XI.
Glamorgan scholar Kazi Szymanski returns after a couple of weeks out to bolster the bowling department –just what Torquay need says Yau.
“We need to start well in our bowling powerplay - it has been a big problem in the last few games,” said Yau.
“With Kazi coming backing in this week, hopefully we can wrestle a bit more control in the front 10.
“Matty Beasant did a great job last week, but we have gone for a different tactic this time out.
“Hopefully we can get a good result to get us ready for Sunday's T20 in Newport.”
Torquay play St Just at Newport on Sunday in the area final of the ECB Nat West Clubs T20.
EXMOUTH captain Richard Baggs is looking for a response from this team when they visit bottom side Brixham.
Brixham know they are going down – and Exmouth are well aware they won’t be challenging for the title after losing to Heathcoat last time out.
The gap between Exmouth and leaders Sidmouth is 49 points, far too many to make up in the last month of the season.
Heathcoat chased 164 to win with seven wickets in hand, which Baggs felt was an unacceptable performance by his side.
“Heathcoat was by far worst performance of the season with poor bowling with no discipline at all and some very average fielding,” said the Exmouth captain.
“ I expect a massive difference for last five games and some other people will get chances they deserve.”