ASHINGTON Cricket Club’s first XI skipper Michael Thewlis has backed his players in their frantic bid to escape relegation from the Wellstream Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League.
Following Saturday’s complete wipeout in the A1 division, Thewlis’ side remain precariously positioned, second from bottom and 26 points adrift of Chopwell with only three games remaining.
However, given their current standing, the Colliers could not have faced a tougher programme as they come face to face with Sacriston at the Front Street ground on Saturday, followed by Swalwell (home) and Shotley Bridge (away) – the top three sides.
But Thewlis believes that his side can hugely profit from the pressure on the leading clubs coming into the final weeks of the season.
He said: “There’s three games left to play and we have to approach the games in a positive frame of mind.
“The teams we are playing against are all fighting to win the league. There are hardly any points between the three of them, so they know they cannot afford to slip up – and that may work in our favour.
“We know they will be nervous and the top three sides will not want to concede ground to their rivals, so we will be presented with opportunities to put them under pressure.”
The Colliers had eyed up a victory from last Saturday’s trip to fourth from bottom Burnopfield as providing a possible lifeline, but those hopes were dashed by the weather.
Thewlis said: “It’s been really disappointing the number of games we’ve had rained off against those teams in the bottom third of the league, especially since our last three games are against the top three sides.”
And the skipper remains in a positive and upbeat frame of mind.
“The way I look at it is, we have two choices,” he said, “we can either end the season on a whimper and slip out of the league in an embarrassing way or fight as hard as we can, every ball of every over, in these last three games knowing we’ve given it our all.
“I know the players will stand up and battle these last games to give us the best chance of staying up – I’m confident of that.”
Meanwhile, the match of the day in the B1 division on Saturday is the clash at Langwell Crescent between Ashington – champions for the last three years – and current league leaders Sacriston.
The Durham club head the table by 20 points and Martin Thewlis’ side know they cannot afford to slip up in this contest.