Jack Jessop and Daniel Grant scored half centuries for Ashington on Saturday but it was not enough as they crashed to their fourth defeat of the season against title aspirants Shotley Bridge at The Spa.
There was plenty of heat both on and off the pitch on a scorching hot day with a barbecue taking place in a sun trap off a ground.
The temperatures rose on the batting strip too as Colliers’ stand-in skipper Steve Harmison won the toss and elected to bat on what appeared to be a good track.
But the visitors quickly became embroiled in a battle for survival as Stuart Graham exploited a spiteful spot on a length to the full, causing all sorts of problems.
Graham had figures of 4-15, which consequently had the Wansbeck side reeling at 22-4 inside the first 13 overs.
The former Tynedale quickie had Neil Wood caught behind by Ian Archbold before Anirudh Singh, trying to clip the ball away, missed out and was trapped lbw.
But it got even worse as Simon Prudhoe received a brute of a ball and departed via a slip catch by home skipper Peter Collingwood.
Then the luckless Ben O’Brien saw Kieran Milburn gobble up a rebound after Archbold had spilled a bat and pad edge.
Naturally deflated, the Colliers were down but certainly not out as Jessop and Grant consolidated with great effect and as the wicket gradually calmed down, the pair forged a stand of more than 70 for the fifth wicket.
But this came amidst more drama.
In the 18th over Jessop survived a run out shout after a lightning piece of fielding by a home fielder at silly mid-on.
Then on 41, Jessop was given out but called back. After Archbold had collected a throw, Jessop stepped out of his crease seconds later to prod the track and the wicketkeeper whipped off the bails. The umpire raised his finger but after total dismay in the Ashington camp, Jessop was reinstated.
In the 25th over the youngster completed his 50 - a sterling effort - out of a total of 74, but was then caught at mid-wicket by Collingwood for 65 off the last ball of the 32nd over.
Sonu Singh and Harmison fell in quick succession to Graeme Brinton and Phil Mellons respectively with the Colliers on 106-7.
But Grant and Callum Storey figured in a stand worth 67. The former, who batted with great concentration, reached his 50 in the 47th over but was later caught at mid-on for 56.
With 26 from Storey, Ashington finished on a highly creditable 181-9.
In reply, openers Phil Brown and 18-year-old Milburn had 50 on the board inside nine overs when Brown departed, caught at first slip by Anirudh Singh for 32.
It proved to be a rare success as Paul Greenwell (69) and Milburn (67 not out) dominated a bowling attack which under-performed to such an extent that the duo added 113, taking their side to within sight of victory.
Singh and O’Brien captured late wickets before Shotley wrapped the game up from the third ball of the 32nd over.
The defeat – coupled with other results – saw the Colliers drop to just below halfway in the league table.
Meanwhile, heavy rain forced Ashington seconds’ top of the table clash against Shotley Bridge seconds in the B1 division to be called off on Saturday morning.
Shotley Bridge 19 points
Ashington 5 points
Ashington’s Jack Jessop, Callum Storey and Daniel Grant were called up for the Northumberland Development XI game against Yorkshire Academy, earlier this week at St Peter’s College, York.
On Saturday Ashington firsts are at home to Lanchester with the seconds away to the same opposition.