ASHINGTON Cricket Club ended the first half of this season’s campaign in the same fashion as they started it – with defeat.
Title chasing Shotley Bridge were the latest club to turn the screw on the struggling Langwell Crescent side, whose woes were further compounded with the news that Tynedale – the club immediately above them who started the day third from bottom and nine points better off than the Colliers – had triumphed with a full 20 points in their relegation clash against Newcastle City to move up the table another place with Ashington now 18 points adrift of Chopwell.
Nothing is going right for Michael Thewlis’ side, which has been endorsed with injuries to two of his players.
The week before last, young batsman Andrew Gray broke his thumb keeping wicket and will be out of action for around six weeks whilst influential all rounder Stephen Boyd has picked up a hamstring injury and could also be sidelined for the next fortnight.
However, skipper Thewlis remains upbeat, and although describing the next four weeks as being ‘pivotal’ he is sure his outfit has enough character to see them through.
Thewlis said on Saturday evening: “We’ve just played the top three sides in the past three weeks and it’s been hard.
“Against Shotley Bridge, we’ve again failed to make enough runs for our bowlers to go at.
“But we’ll go away this week and work hard in training and try and put right some of the areas we know we need to work on.
“The next four weeks are going to be pivotal for us, but I am convinced we have enough character to get us through this tough patch.”
Saturday went anything but according to plan with the Colliers immediately put on the back foot and in dire straits at 1-2 following the first over.
Right arm pace bowler Stuart Graham was the man in form as he bowled Jack Jessop from the fourth delivery then had Scott Thornton caught behind by wicketkeeper Ian Archbold two balls later.
Simon Prudhoe and Greg Williams figured in a determined and fruitful stand which profited 61 before both perished in consecutive overs.
In the 26th over Prudhoe was bowled by Graham Hubber for 28 then Williams fell leg before to Phil Carlin for 33.
When Scott Dunn and skipper Thewlis fell in the same Carlin over – the 29th – Ashington were looking at a scoreboard of 64-6 and only a dogged unbeaten 30 from Dale Ross ensured they got a first batting point on reaching 100.
Before that, the returning Graham was on a hat-trick after removing Craig Wood lbw then yorking Graham Whitworth first ball.
Callum Storey denied Graham but the number ten batsman was then bowled by Phil Brown with the innings wrapped up shortly afterwards for 102 after Graham went nap having James Richards caught behind.
Graham finished with figures of 5-34 from 13.5 overs with Carlin claiming 2-16 from eight; Graham Hubber 1-35 from 11; Brown 1-3 from three and Graeme Angus nought for 12 from seven.
The Colliers were looking to defend a score similar to the previous week at Swalwell where they ran the defending champions close – but there was not even a sniff that this game was ever going to fall into the same category.
Phil Brown set the tone with a boundary off the first ball of the innings and a further couple of fours inside the same over from Wood and along with Peter Collingwood, the duo formed a partnership of 52 inside ten overs.
Collingwood took four boundaries in Whitworth’s fourth over then struck three more blows to the ropes after the introduction of Richards.
But the final ball of the over kept low, rapped Collingwood on the pads and he was given out lbw for 31.
Callum Storey weighed in with an impressive spell which deserved to bring him success but he was left wicketless then with the score moved on to 80, Brown – who had advanced onto 33 – holed out being caught just inside the boundary by Wood off Thornton. Marty Hubber (30 not out), partnered by Andrew Stokoe, took his side home from the first ball of the 24th over to seal a convincing victory for the Derwent Valley-based side.
Ashington 2 points
Shotley Bridge 20 points
On Saturday Ashington start the second half of their season with a trip to Annfield Plain.