TEENAGERS will be encouraged to play without pressure – and with a smile on their faces – when they take to the field for a cup match.

Davenham host Malpas at Butcher’s Stile on Thursday in the opening group-stage game of this season’s Vitality Under 19s Club T20.

It is an opportunity to play both against their peers and alongside their friends.

“We feel it’s important to have a presence in this competition,” said Mark Greaves, the team’s manager.

“It keeps these lads involved in the sport and playing a format of the game that they like.”

Oulton Park, who were too strong for a combined Runcorn and Widnes side on Friday, are the only other mid Cheshire outfit to have entered.

None of the others possess enough players of the right age to field a side.

Like their rivals from Little Budworth, Davenham have taken advantage of a rule that allows them to invite youngsters from neighbouring clubs to represent them.

Oakmere duo Ciaran McDonnell and James Hodkinson, plus Middlewich’s Reece Johnson, are likely to feature.

Greaves said: “Those lads all want to play cricket more often.

“Most of them are turning out for senior sides on a Saturday, and that’s good for their development, but there is perhaps a lower expectation them for this tournament.

“That doesn’t mean they don’t want to win, but it’s more important to us that they have an experience they enjoy and want to repeat.”

Oulton Park included Ali Begg and Ben Ainsworth, both regulars for Kingsley’s first team in the Cheshire League’s top-flight, in their side earlier this week.

Last season Davenham used players from Toft and Winnington Park.

“It’s a real shame there aren’t more lads of this age at clubs in Northwich,” said Greaves.

“That wasn’t always the case, but it’s good that those who want to can take advantage of that flexibility in the rules.

“You often find lads know each other from playing in representative sides or because they go to the same school or college.

“That was certainly the case here last summer.”

Davenham and Oulton Park are both scheduled to play five matches between now and the end of next month in a group that also includes Chester Boughton Hall, Christleton, Malpas and the merged Runcorn and Widnes team.

A knockout stage follows for the group-winners.

Play starts tonight at 6.15pm.