Relegation danger

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THE rain kept away from Tynedale’s Priors Flat ground on Saturday – but the relegation clouds continue to bank up and hover over Ashington who tumbled to their third consecutive defeat.

These two sides have enjoyed not only the friendly rivalry spanning several years but have also contrived to serve up some fascinating duels in that time.

Only on Saturday, as matches in the division marked a third of the way through the campaign, this clash was unfortunately billed as a crucial battle with both sides at the wrong end of the table.

After Hexham had been drenched in hot sunshine on the Friday, merely 24 hours later, and shortly after 7.30pm in bitterly cold conditions, Ashington’s first XI were feeling numb after a fifth defeat in seven matches plunged them into the bottom two, eight points adrift of Saturday’s victors.

The Colliers did score 216, but on Tynedale’s ground that total proves difficult to defend – and even more so in Ashington’s case as without the services of Scott Thornton, Craig Wood and James Harmison, they went into the game with a depleted bowling attack.

But how games can change so quickly.

After skipper Michael Thewlis had won the toss and elected to bat, Jack Jessop and Scott Dunn got their side off to a good start and both looked in confident mood.

However, in the sixth over Ross Laidlaw, generating some pace from the railway end of the ground, got a nick from Dunn but was nevertheless indebted to a catch of outstanding quality from wicketkeeper Jamie Crichton.

Simon Prudhoe and Jessop continued to be in charge, but in the ninth over, the latter, who had batted quite nicely for 22, also fell to a catch by Crichton off Stephen Smith.

Andrew Gray, top scorer with 75 the previous week against Lanchester, came in at four and proceeded to share a stand of 55 with Prudhoe.

The pair never looked in any trouble until Prudhoe’s downfall came in the 24th over when he was caught by Gary Hunter off Richard Darling for 33.

Stephen Boyd partnered Gray and the duo figured in the highest partnership of the innings.

Gray completed his 50 with a single but next ball, and after the pair had added 68, Boyd’s attempt to hit spinner Thomas Cant out of the ground failed as Hunter swooped to take the catch at long on.

The dismissal proved to be the catalyst for a complete change in the game as in the following over Martin Sexton was run out attempting a second run ,then six balls later Cant held a return catch off his own bowling to end Gray’s innings of 51.

Ashington were in danger of failing to bat out their 50 overs, but after a period of consolidation, Thewlis (13), Daniel Grant (13 not out), Surya Rathore (10) and Callum Storey (6 not out) saw the Colliers through to 216-8 at the close.

Rathore then gave the Wansbeck side the best possible start with the ball as he trapped Hunter leg before from the first delivery of the reply, and in the eighth, Mark Drake fell in identical fashion to Boyd.

When Rainford edged James Richards to be caught behind by Grant for 39, Tynedale were on 90-3.

But Dave Newton and Laidlaw took a stranglehold on proceedings, adding 66 before Laidlaw – on 32 – clipped a leg stump half volley from Richards straight to Callum Storey on the square leg boundary.

If Ashington’s hopes were raised, Newton and Steve Smith quickly dispelled them.

Newton eventually succumbed, bowled by Rathore in the 42nd over for 81, an innings which included ten boundaries, then Smith (36 not out) and Cant led their side to victory from the first ball of the 47th over.

Tynedale 19 points

Ashington 7 points

On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Burnopfield.