Leadership test for Bideford against deposed leaders Ipplepen

Joel Seward - will he take wickets for Seaton against Shobrooke Park

BIDEFORD’S promotion credentials will be examined when they visit former front-runners Ipplepen this Saturday.

Pens were top prior to the last round of fixtures when they lost to Seaton.

Bideford beat Filleigh by eight wickets to move past Pens into top spot, although it is tight at the top with just eight points between the top four teams.

Bideford skipper Paul Heard, who missed the Filleigh game due to injury, is cautiously optimistic going into this Saturday’s match.

“We carry great momentum going into this week and the boys are always confident when it comes to big matches,” said Heard, who faces a fitness test before the side is finalised.

Spinner Mike Lemmings is unavailable so Jack Ford comes in as a like-for-like replacement.

Ipplepen, knocked off top spot by Tavistock last Saturday, are looking to bounce back.

Pens haven’t won for three weeks and have some catching up to do.

“We need to work really hard at both batting and bowling this week - neither have been great in the last two weeks,” said Pens’ skipper Sam Wakeham.

“And if we are anything but at the top of our game we won’t get the win we are after.”

Batter Mawgan Penrice comes in for Sam Defriend who is away for a couple of weeks.

THORVERTON have acted quickly to replace departed overseas player Seppe Barletta, who has flown back to Australia for family reasons.

On his way to Station Road is James Grady, a medium to quick bowler who bats in the top order and is coming over from Queensland.”

“James has been playing for the University of Queensland and just finished his studies,” said Thors' captain Andy Pitt.

“We are looking for him to come over and make an instant impact.

“He will be available for the game against Filleigh and comes over with high praise from Dan Beatty, who was over with us a couple of years ago.”

Grady won’t arrive in time to play in the basement battle with Barton at Cricketfield Road this Saturday.

While Thorverton were losing the derby clash with Shobrooke Park last Saturday, Barton were going down to Seaton.

Thorverton are in the bottom three, two points behind Barton who aren’t. A win this Saturday is crucial for both sides – and someone will be disappointed.

“It is a big game,” said Pitt.

“We know that Barton haven't got too many runs on the board this season and we have been quite indifferent with the bat.

“It's going to be a tough decision if we win the toss on Saturday.”

Batter George Greed and keeper-batter Nick Barton will be back; Jacob Broom is unavailable which leaves Thors short in the seam-bowling department as he had four Shobrooke wickets last time out.

“The hope is Stuart Tait will be available,” said Pitt, who shares an office Monday to Friday with Barton opposite number Adam Parker, which is bound to lead to some banter before, during and after.

SHOBROOKE Park, up to joint second after the 111-run win over Thorverton, face the long trip to Seaton.

Shobrooke may be winning on a weekly basis, but skipper Chris Simpson isn’t convinced they are showing their best form.

“The top three haven’t been toughing it out up top – myself included – and that’s put pressure on our middle order,” said Simpson.

“That's about all we need to improve as our bowling and fielding have been great.”

Shobrooke haven’t run into Seaton before in 33 years of Devon League cricket so have no previous experience of Court Lane to go on.

“We haven't heard much about Seaton, but they seem to be in good form,” said Simpson.

“It should be tight but we are looking to come away with the points.”

Seaton will be unchanged and like Shobrooke are on unfamiliar ground.

“I have never played against Shobrooke so have no idea what to expect,” said Seaton skipper Ben Morgan.

“We have been playing some good cricket recently with wins over Barton and Ipplepen so lots of positives to take into this weekend.”

FILLEIGH are down among the relegation worriers after their defeat by Bideford.

In a division with three drop spots they can’t stay second from bottom for much longer.

Only one side are below Filleigh and they are Ottery, who visit Deer Park this Saturday.

Lose that one and Filleigh will be deep in the mire.

“It is obvious we need to target our home games and victory against the teams around us is becoming more and more important,” said skipper Simon Prideaux.

“We will be putting last week behind us and aiming to put together the sort of unbeaten run that saw us promoted last season

“I hope that starts with a win on Saturday.”

Medium pacer John Hickman has recovered from an upper groin strain and will be back to spearhead the attack.

Hickman replaces James Marsh who is away on a sailing weekend.

TWO improving teams – Tavistock and Abbotskerswell meet at the Ring.

Abbots are unchanged following the win at Ottery that lifted them to fifth.

“Looking forward to a tough test at Tavistock but the boys are up for it,” said captain Charlie Hill.

Tavistock are without battern Ian Gray and bowler Rob Bone, both unavailable. Rob Milligan and James White come in.

Skipper Shaun Daymonds said confidence in the Tavvy camp is high and 'big points' are the target.

He added: "There are a few big games coming up so we want to keep the foot on the pedal leading up to halfway."