WHAT a weekend is in store for Northop.

With scorching weather forecast, Northop host Gresford tomorrow in a Premier Division clash and then the attention turns south as the Flintshire outfit head to Newport for an encounter in the quarter-finals of the Welsh Cup on Sunday.

A coach ride south will follow the conclusion of the match with Gresford, with players, officials and supporters making the trip.

Northop’s Andy Jones said: “The lads are really looking forward to it and looking forward to the challenge.

“We know we’re the underdogs in the competition but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.

“I don’t ever remember playing Newport. I’m a Northop lad and I don’t remember playing Newport before.”

They reached this stage of the national competition with a win over local rivals Northop Hall.

A tough challenge awaits on Sunday and Jones added: “I think we’re under no illusion they’re a step up for us. But we are up for the challenge.”

Northop aren’t losing sight of the bread-and-butter of the Premier Division and they are in with a terrific chance of securing a top-three finish this summer.

They strengthened their position with a 16-run success at Bangor last weekend and Northop have a slender two-point advantage over fourth-placed Brymbo.

Gresford, in fifth, are a further 14 points back.

From Gresford’s perspective, they too harbour hopes of claiming a top-three finish this season.

A dominant display last time out saw Gresford thrash Mochdre by 10 wickets and skipper Matt Thompson said: “It was a good return to form. To get the 15-0 was pleasing.”

They were chasing 141 for victory and they got there without losing a wicket.

That was all thanks to the displays of Sam Thompson (73 not out) and Dan Williams (59 not out).

“We started at a reasonable pace,” added Thompson. “To win 15-0 you have got to make sure you bat sensibly. A few of us were sitting there with pad rash!”

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Thompson added: “They have been doing really well this year.

“They’re obviously a good side and have got some good results.”

Harry Morris and Sam Thompson are both unavailable, but Rob Clarke comes in and Gresford will hope to welcome back Simon Perry.

Llay couldn’t have been dealt a tougher task as Tom Crewe’s side head west to tackle league leaders Menai Bridge, who have won all 12 of their league matches this season.

Batting woes were once more to the fore when Llay were bundled out for only 49 at Mold in their last contest.

“Disappointment continues with the batting and that is our downfall every week it would seem,” said Crewe. “We’re getting 11 players on the pitch which is a win for me to be honest!”

Dave Phennah, Jacob Roberts, Jack Aplin and David Wright will return for Llay while Tom Parry and Richard Beale are unavailable.

Pontblyddyn may be looking to alter their target for the season.

Back in the top flight after claiming the Division One title last summer, they had initially looked at a top-six finish this season.

However, following last weekend’s thumping nine-wicket success at Pwllheli, a top-four outcome is a real possibility for Pont, who welcome Mochdre to Alder Meadow.

Skipper Rhys Jones is back and he won’t be taking anything for granted against a Mochdre side that is in the bottom three.

“I remember talking about them last time,” said Jones. “We said the same thing that they were struggling. We had a good game over there and they nearly beat us.”

Jones, who takes the place of Mark Neath, added: “If we keep playing the way we are, there’s no reason why we can’t finish in the top-four,” he added.

“Initially, we would have been happy with top-six. We have played the bigger teams away. Stevel (Rodney) is now getting runs and that’s making a big difference. John Bird is batting and bowling really well.”

Elsewhere, Bangor play host to Llandudno.

Division Two: Bethesda v Bersham; Caernarfon v Menai Bridge 2nds; Gresford 2nds v Northop 2nds; Hawarden Park 2nds v Carmel & District; Mochdre 2nds v Ruthin; Mold 2nds v St Asaph 2nds.

Division Three: Brymbo 2nds v Abergele 2nds; Buckley 2nds v Ruthin 2nds; Gwersyllt Park 2nds v Connah’s Quay 2nds; Mynydd Isa and Maeshafn v Pwllheli 2nds. Sunday: Bethesda 2nds v Conwy 2nds.

Division Four: Bersham 2nds v Llandudno 2nds; Dolgellau 2nds v Carmel & District 2nds; Llanrwst 2nds v Hawarden Park 3rds.