Peterborough Town must tackle improving Oundle in the Northants Premier Division at Bretton Gate without their star player on Saturday (noon start).
Professional all-rounder Paul McMahon will be absent because of an important social gathering and that’s an obvious blow to a Town side challenging hard at the top of the table.
Town made it three maximum-points wins in a row when beating Wollaston by 57 runs last weekend. The city side remain second, 10 points behind unbeaten leaders Rushden
Former Oundle player Dan Oldham will replace McMahon and Town skipper Lewis Bruce is backing him to make a decent fist of filling a huge gap.
“Dan played well with bat and ball for our seconds last week,” Bruce stated. “And he will be keen to do well against his former club.
“Obviously not having Paul around is a blow, but we’ve won games without him in the past and we can do so again.
“I’ll be looking to the senior players like myself ,Asim Butt and Joe Dawborn to shoulder the extra responsibility and we will need to play well to beat Oundle.
“They will be a much better side than the one we bowled out for 70-odd at the start of the season. They have players in excellent form.
“We played okay at Wollaston. Too many batsmen were dismissed in a soft fashion and we didn’t bowl well at the start of their innings, but we got the job done comfortably in the end. We will doubtless have to perform better as a team this weekend.”
Tim Young’s 89 pushed Town up to 195 and Bruce’s own excellence sparked a dramatic Wollaston collapse from 80-1 to 89-8 before the home side were finally dismissed for 128.
Bruce claimed three wickets in four balls with his off-spin on his way to 5-39. McMahon took 4-37. The captain’s only other five-wicket haul this season also arrived against Wollaston.
Pace ace Dawborn delivered a jaded display after a week’s solid cricket for Cambs and Northants seconds, but Bruce will need him firing this Saturday.
“Joe is a big player for us every week anyway,” Bruce added. “But with Paul away he will be even more important.
“He tends to bowl well at Bretton Gate so I’m confident after a week’s rest he will be on top form.
“We will need him at his best to make sure we keep their dangerous players like Zeeshan Manzoor under control.”
Oundle’s batsmen warmed up for the big game in great style in a drawn game at home to lowly Horton House last weekend.
Alex Martin, who recorded his first Premier Division ton earlier this season, has now broken the club record for the top flight with an innings of 130.
And Cameron Wake reached three figures for the first time in over a decade of Premier Division action. His unbeaten 106 arrived from just 78 balls, mostly during a fourth-wicket stand of 162 with Martin.
Wake’s second 50 occaupied just 18 balls as Oundle bashed 200 from the final 24 overs to close on 292-5, but, despite an early declaration, they fell one wicket short of victory.
Oundle, who expect to be at full strength, start Saturday’s game 117 points and five places behind Town, who they have never beaten in a Premier Division game.