MARTINSTOWN stand-in captain Ed Nichols has likened his team’s derby with Dorchester at Lower Ashton Farm tomorrow (1pm) to a “free hit”.

With two groups of six in the Dorset ‘Thank You NHS’ League Division One, fixtures are limited to five plus one play-off.

Nichols believes the short campaign is pressure free and Martinstown have responded by beating Cattistock & Symene plus Portland in their opening games.

He told Echosport: “We’ve been pleased with our first two results. We’ve got more to improve on as we’ve had slightly more loose spells with the ball.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to claw our way back in the way that we have against Dorchester.

“It’s nice to come into it off the back of two wins and with the league being so short it’s a bit of a free hit – I don’t think anyone will be sweating too much.

“We can go and enjoy it and see how we get on.”

He added: “Dorchester seem to add depth every year and won the league last year. We know they’ll give us a challenge.

“We’ve got to make sure we raise our game, take them deep and make sure we’re in the game throughout.”

With both teams looking to preserve their unbeaten records, Dorchester captain James Dunham is relishing the crunch clash.

“We’re all excited,” he admitted. “Both teams have got off to a good start winning both games.

“Martinstown have played two away games and we’ve played two home games, so we’re looking forward to it.

“We’re both looking to win three from three and its always a nice ground to play at. They’re a good bunch of lads.

“We’ve played on the same team. I know I’ve played with a few of them at school and (representative) stuff as well. I know a lot of our lads have done that as well.

“We know each other well and it’s always a healthy rivalry and competitive game – one we want to win. It adds that little spice to the game.”

Dorchester won the Dorset Premier League title last season and Dunham’s men have a bigger target on their back as a result.

“That’s going to be across the board for most teams,” he said. “You always want to beat the team that won it previously.

“It does make it difficult for us, but with all the local teams now – Cattistock, Martinstown – with the local pride, we’ve had that for the last few years anyway.

“It brings that bit of competitiveness out from the opponents, so we only see it as a positive.”

Martinstown will pick from a pool of 12 players, with captain Sam Kershaw and Fraser Hill unavailable.

There are debuts for all-rounder Nilan Weeraddana and Finlay Williams, who will open the batting with brother Sean, Nicholls dropping to number three. Tom Pope is also in the frame.

Dorchester replace batsman Scott Peach (unavailable) with all-rounder Will McKay.

Martinstown (from): F Williams, S Williams, Nichols, T Pope, White, Andrews, Maltby, Weeraddana, Rimmer, Blair, McNab, Durant.

Dorchester: McKay, Ryall, Carty, Mitchem, J Caldwell, Anderson, Barrett, Richardson, Thompson, Dunham, Roe

Elsewhere in Division One, Portland Red Triangle visit Cattistock & Symene with neither team having won this season.

There is added fire to this clash as Triangle skipper Matt Randell was handed a two-match ban for an incident against Cattistock last season.

Randell said: “One thing we will take into the Cattistock game is to put as much of the grudge behind us (as possible) and focus on our cricket.

“At the moment, we’re not playing the best cricket we can so we’re focused on doing what we can do well. If we can take that in we can hopefully get the win. The most important thing is putting everything else behind us.”

Ryan Price (unavailable) is replaced by Matt Barrett.

Portland: Randell, Leake, Laws, Theakstone, Midgley, Samuel, Mihell, M Barrett, Cameron, Marsh, Hinde.

In the other game in Group A, Bere Regis face a trip to the Terrace to play Sherborne.

Such is the strength of the north Dorset side, Bere captain Brian Keegan is wary going into the contest.

“They’re a decent side,” he said. “I know Dorchester blew them away but after speaking to Dorchester last week you look at the side (Sherborne) can put out.

“They’ve got a really good batting side, with strength in depth, people like Josh Lawrence.

“Dorchester blew them away but I think that’s a one off. Normal business will be resumed and we’re expecting a really tough game.”

Sherborne’s other star players include Emlyn Kuhn plus Andy Nurton.

Keegan said: “Nurton, especially on the bowling front, doesn’t go for san awful lot and always has a habit of picking up wickets as well.

“That, at the top of the innings, always seems to give them impetus.

“Kuhn can hit a ball an awful long way but last year when we played him he struggled against spin. It depends what track you’re going to get when you go up there.

“It’s a big field at the Terrace, so if you get off to bad start it’s a big field to defend.”

Bere make one change as Simon Proffitt returns for the unavailable Rob Murphy.

Bere: M King, Payne, Proffitt, Griffiths, S Goodhew, T Goodhew, Rich Cole, Brown, Rogerson, Keegan, Walbridge.

In Division Two, Weymouth face a testing trip to unbeaten Stalbridge, who last year were relegated from the Premier League.

Last time out, Weymouth beat Cerne Valley by 16 runs and the Seasiders are looking to continue the momentum from their only victory this season.

Skipper Harry Mitchell said: “I don’t know what you’re going to get from a team that’s just been relegated.

“There’s rumours of them losing a couple but I’m still going to expect a tough game.

“I’d imagine they’ll have a point to prove and will try and win every game. It’s going to be an exciting game.

“If you look at last season, it took us a while to get going and register our first win. After that, we went on a run – ideally we’re looking to do the same.

“If we can carry the momentum from the last 15 overs (at Cerne) we can go on and start pushing.

“If we get into our work a lot quicker, we can put the other team under pressure and we look a far better team.”

Weymouth will make a late call on selection, with 10 first-teamers already chosen.

Weymouth: James, Walton, Almond, Guyett, Mitchell, Beals, Urumancheri, Hunter, Puckett, Rathnayake, AN Other.

*All fixtures 1.30pm unless stated