Ben O’Brien smashed his first hundred of the season as Ashington extended their lead at the top of the Go North East Northumberland &Tyneside Senior League to 39 points after victory over second placed Lanchester at Ashley Park on Saturday.
Indisputably billed as the ‘match of the day’, this clash between the top two was a tense and gripping affair – but the Colliers emerged triumphant with a comprehensive 110 runs result after another highly impressive performance.
However when this eagerly anticipated encounter got under way, the script certainly did not go according to plan for the Wansbeck side as Neil Wood, facing the first ball, edged Gareth Wade and was caught by Daniel Storey at slip.
Ani Singh and Jack Jessop settled into a good groove in a stand which averaged five an over and the pair looked comfortable until Singh (30) lost his off stump to Kieron Taylor from the fifth ball of the 14 th over.
The rain which had threatened menacingly eventually forced the players off and when play restarted, the match was reduced to 45 over per side. Jessop however, who had moved onto 42 before the interruption, failed to add to his score as he glanced a delivery from Graham Brinton down the leg side and was pouched behind by wicketkeeper Reynolds.
At 80-3, Ashington were in a vulnerable situation but Ben O’Brien and Ben Harmison changed the game dramatically with an excellent partnership of 153 for the fourth wicket.
Both collected half centuries and for Harmison it was his second in as many games before he was caught in the deep by Dan Nicotra for 71, an innings which included five fours and three sixes.
That dismissal came in the 42 nd over with 233 on the board – but what was to follow in the next over was quite sensational.
As he clubbed four sixes from consecutive balls by Nicotra, O’Brien moved swiftly from 76 to complete his hundred -his second 50 remarkably coming from only 14 deliveries.
Lanchester’s left arm spinner hit back in the final over claiming the wickets of Sean McCafferty and O’Brien in a double wicket maiden as the Colliers closed on 271-6.
Callum Storey struck in his first over for Ashington, flattening Nicotra’s leg stump then in the ninth, wicketkeeper Daniel Grant claimed an extraordinary run out.
Racing from behind the stumps to the off side, the stumper side footed the ball which broke the wicket leaving Storey out of his ground.
Wood pouched a good low catch to send back Graham Brinton in the 18 th then in the next, Taylor was caught at first slip by Singh.
From 71-4, Mark Small and Green added 70, the former completing fifty in the 31 st before Singh struck in the 37 th to send back Green for 36.
Singh held onto a snorter of a catch to bring the curtain down on Small’s innings of 68 and Ben Harmison knocked back Stuart McPhail’s off stump as Ashington moved closer to a complete victory by taking four wickets for 20 runs.
But on 161-9, Tully defended three deliveries from Harmison then Wade also denied the Colliers maximum points as he safely negotiated the final over from left arm spinner Paul Lanchester 6 points; Ashington 19 points.
On Saturday, Ashington are away to Benwell &Walbottle