The NCU Premier League relegation battle reaches an all-important stage on Saturday although one of the captains involved insists it is not do-or-die time.
All eyes will be on events at Middle Road where Carrickfergus, the bottom-placed side with just one victory from nine matches, entertain fellow strugglers Lisburn.
A victory for the visitors would make David Simpson and his team safe from relegation bar an unlikely series of results and it would leave Carrickfergus staring down the barrel of relegation.
Simpson, who led his team to a stunning 10-wicket victory over Civil Service North last Saturday, believes one more victory will secure Lisburn’s top flight status. They travel to Waringstown in a rearranged 20-over match tonight before that trip to Middle Road tomorrow.
“I think one more win would confirm our position,” said Simpson. “I think we will have chances to surprise somebody else and win again after this weekend though. I don’t think it’s a case of this being the be all and end all. People will maybe be building it up as that but I don’t think it is.”
Lisburn crushed Iain Parkhill’s side when they met last month at Wallace Park, but Simpson is expecting a much tougher contest.
“Everybody thinks Carrick are the whipping boys but they are better than that,” he said. “We beat them earlier in the season but they will be a different proposition at their own ground.”
However, before that Lisburn have a chance to pull clear with that rearranged game at The Lawn.
Waringstown have lost two matches on the bounce and in a shorter format, could be vulnerable.
“Waringstown are wounded after losing what should have been a very comfortable victory for them,” he said. “They will be looking to get back at it straight away.
“They will be aware that what we did on Sunday was what they couldn’t do on Saturday so they will perhaps be holding a few more reservations than they would have had otherwise.”
Lisburn are without James Magowan, the all-rounder’s appearances severely limited by his work commitments in England.
Carrickfergus meanwhile are at full strength for the first time this season.
Jamie Holmes is back after serving a one-match suspension while Indrajeet Kamtekar, the Indian professional, will play despite a long-term knee injury.
This weekend could also be decisive at the top. CIYMS, the title favourites, face two massive matches, starting on Saturday against Instonians at Shaw’s Bridge.
Chris Dougherty’s side also host North Down on Sunday and these are Rassie van der Dussen’s last two matches before his return to South Africa on Monday. Win both matches and CI will be in pole position to win the title.
North Down are arguably the next best-placed team. Leaders after having played a match more than CI, Instonians and Waringstown, Marty Moreland’s team can also put themselves in a great position with two victories in east Belfast.
They travel to Civil Service North on Saturday before that testing trip to Belmont on Sunday.
Two victories would propel them into a strong position for a title charge, something no-one envisaged at the start of the season, including admirable skipper Moreland.
In Peter Eakin and Alistair Shields, North Down include two of the best young players of the season.
In Saturday’s other game, Ballymena travel to Waringstown.