Ashington win again to maintain gap at top of the table

Ashington bowler Callum Storey in action. Picture by Ian Appleby
Ashington bowler Callum Storey in action. Picture by Ian Appleby

Ashington consolidated their position at the top of the Go North East Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League A1 Division on Saturday with a seven-wicket win over Newcastle City at Langwell Crescent.

With nearest challengers Shotley Bridge also taking a maximum haul against Tynedale, it means the points differential between the two clubs, who are due to meet on August 20, remains 46.

The Colliers were forced to play a waiting game, however, as a series of showers forced them off the field, and at one stage, what proved to be the final downpour threatened to scupper their chances completely.

When play eventually restarted at 7.20pm, the home side had 70 minutes to chase down a further 72 runs, but they got over the line quite comfortably.

Skipper Greg Williams, on his return to the side, lost the toss with the visitors electing to bat, but they found runs hard to come by in the early stages against accurate bowling from Callum Storey and Ben Harmison.

The breakthrough eventually came in the 11th over when right arm spinner Ani Singh tempted Palav Kumar into a lofted drive which was safely caught at mid-on by Ian Sharkey.

Usman Salahuddin joined Mohsin Mukhtar and the pair had advanced the score to 55 when the latter danced down the track to slow left armer Paul Rutherford and was duly stumped by wicketkeeper Daniel Grant for 14.

Shortly afterwards, Singh struck to remove Salahuddin lbw, but the visitors, through Shafiq and Usman Mukhtar, continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

The pair had put on 50 for the fourth wicket when Mukhtar was bowled by the returning Storey from the last ball of the 40th.

Cue a collapse as Storey and Harmison cut through the middle and lower order in devastating fashion. At one point Harmison was on a hat-trick after successful back to back lbw shouts to remove Shafiq and Sohail.

Rutherford also got in on the act, having Mohammed caught just inside the boundary edge by Jack Jessop before Grant produced a stunning one handed effort to send back Zain Ahmed.

After returning to the field following the first interruption for rain, Grant took an offering from Padamalya, and three runs later, with the total on 135, last man Asif was caught at mid-off by Singh off Storey.

Harmison returned 3-25 from nine overs and Storey 3-50 from 9.4, but spin twins Singh and Rutherford also played key roles as they recorded 2-20 and 2-21 respectively after sending down 12 overs each.

In reply, Neil Wood and Singh opened up for the home side and the duo were going along well with 39 on the board before, in the 10th over, Wood was trapped leg before to Sohail for 15.

And the bowler also accounted for Singh (25) in the 16th as the left hander edged a delivery to Salahuddin at slip.

Ben O’Brien partnered Jessop but within minutes the covers were back on as rain seriously threatened to become the winner.

However, what proved to be the final uninterrupted session saw the Ashington pair efficiently whittle down the target.

With 15 runs required, Jessop was bowled for 33 by Salahuddin, but nine balls later, on the stroke of 8pm, O’Brien (37 not out) and Harmison (four not out) saw their side home.

Ironically, half an hour later, the heavens opened yet again and a beautiful rainbow dominated the skyline, only on this occasion, the weather was insignificant as the Mighty Acorns were already in the clubhouse celebrating their 14th victory of the campaign.

Match sponsor: The Buffs Club, Ashington.

Ashington 20 points

Newcastle City 3 points

On Saturday, Ashington are away to Consett.