ASHINGTON Cricket Club’s first XI are still clinging to the hope of avoiding relegation – but their chances are receding as each week goes by.
Second bottom and now 26 points adrift of Chopwell, the Colliers travel to face Burnopfield on Saturday before coming face to face with Sacriston, Swalwell and Shotley Bridge, the three teams fighting it out for the title.
On Saturday at Langwell Crescent – albeit only after a late flourish – Ashington at least posted a competitive score of 176 against old adversaries and arch rivals Tynedale.
However, despite making the Hexham outfit graft hard for their runs, the Colliers went down to their 11th defeat of the campaign.
On a sunny afternoon, Michael Thewlis lost the toss and Tynedale asked Ashington to take first strike on a wicket which proved difficult for the batsmen.
Runs were hard to come by with the home side only having 54 on the board at the half way stage, by which time both openers Jack Jessop (27) and Michael Thewlis (13) were back in the pavilion.
Left hander Simon Prudhoe scored 20 against his former club but the Colliers were greatly indebted to a solid half century from Andrew Gray, who struck 51 from 89 balls, Martin Thewlis (21 not out from 27 balls) and Surya Rathore (14 from six balls, which included two sixes) as they closed on 176-7 from their 50 overs.
David Newton finished top wicket-taker for the visitors with 3-26 from nine overs.
Ashington required an early breakthrough but it did not materialise and they had to wait until Tynedale had 52 on the board before Stephen Boyd bowled Newton for 28.
Craig Wood gave the Colliers renewed hope when he trapped Mark Drake (19) leg before with the score on 94, but skipper Gary Hunter and Stephen Smith forged a profitable stand worth 69, which not only took the game away from the home side but also put Tynedale on the winning straight.
Ashington picked up a consolation extra bowling point towards the end as with only 14 runs required Boyd had Smith caught behind by Daniel Grant for 43.
Then Wood bowled Rainford but Hunter (71 not out, which included six fours) and Thomas Cant took Tynedale home from the second ball of the 48th over.
Ashington 6 points
Tynedale 18 points
Ashington seconds had an unexpected day off on Saturday as their scheduled clash against Tynedale seconds at Priors Flat was called off with the Hexham outfit conceding the game.
Consequently the Colliers second string go into their last four games still 20 points behind leaders Sacriston.