Ashington went back to the top of the A2 division on Saturday night, but only after a hard earned 15 runs victory over Greenside.
With leaders Backworth idle, the Colliers – two points behind at the start of play – took full advantage, but they were pushed all the way by a purposeful Greenside who, requiring 55 from the last ten overs and with eight wickets in hand, were firm favourites.
However, after Matty Storey had comfortably pocketed a catch at wide long-on off skipper Greg Williams to claim the vital scalp of Darren Stephenson, the returning Callum Storey and Sonu Singh did the remaining damage, bowling superbly in tandem to blunt the home side’s charge.
All in all an entertaining game of cricket, yet after Willams had won the toss and elected to take first strike, his batsmen had to contend with a wicket which proved difficult, highlighted when Simon Prudhoe received a delivery which ‘popped’ off a length and hit the peak of his helmet which left him with a black eye.
At the same time as the Red Arrows skirted the ground, Daniel Grant stroked the first boundary.
But it was the home side who got off to a flying start when opening bowler Craig Simpson – who was to deliver an unbroken 15 overs stint from the pavilion end – easily held a return catch offered by Neil Wood.
That dismissal came from the first ball of the sixth over and Backworth injured captain Mark Minto’s interest must have grown even more as he viewed from the sidelines as Grant succumbed, caught behind by Paul Reed off the tireless Simpson in the 12th with the visitors score on 40.
However, Prudhoe found Scott Dunn another able partner as the pair duly added 84 for the third wicket, seeing the hundred come up in the 29th until both fell inside consecutive overs.
Prudhoe, following on from his half century against Backworth the previous week, had just completed another 50 when he was clean bowled a few balls later by Kieren Barker.
Dunn meanwhile can consider himself unfortunate after falling to what would rank as being one of the best catches of the season by Adam Wilkin at square leg.
Dunn clipped a delivery from Graeme Tones off his legs and another boundary was on the cards until Wilkin produced a fantastic effort, moving to his right and holding onto the ball one handed.
It certainly gave the home side a lift with Matty Storey, Callum Storey and Craig Wood all falling to Tones, and Adam Nichol and Williams to Wilkin.
Consequently Ashington were indebted to a lively unbeaten knock of 46 from all rounder Sonu Singh, which included three fours and two sixes, as they eventually closed on 207-9 from their 50 overs.
Greenside openers Reed and Andy Smith got their side off to a good start, averaging three runs an over, but in the 14th, Singh, who had just replaced Wood, bowled the latter off stump with the fifth ball for 20.
Stephenson, who hit 69 in the corresponding game earlier in the season at Langwell Crescent, joined Reed and the pair continued to pursue the target with a stand of 56 until Reed was trapped leg before to spinner Chris Watson for 28.
Wilkin came in at number four and in partnership with Stephenson, the duo whittled the runs down.
The rate required had increased to over five and the pair were in control but Ashington broke through in the 40th over, claiming the priceless wicket of Stephenson.
The left hander, who had batted quite fluently and superbly in striking five boundaries and three sixes, hoisted spinner Williams towards the leg side with Storey making no mistake with the catch.
Greenside were still unrelenting in their chase but Singh and Callum Storey returned to the attack and both made incisions with three wickets each including Wilkin for 42.
Greenside’s hopes evaporated when the left hander – having smashed a six – clipped the next ball down Matty Storey’s throat at deep mid-wicket.
Requiring 26 from the last two overs became an impossible task for the tailenders against Singh (4-44) and Storey (3-40), who completed their mission with accurate bowling.
Greenside 8 points
Ashington 19 points
On Friday Ashington take on Alnwick in the final of the A2 Divisional Cup at Langwell Crescent with wickets pitched at 6pm.
On Saturday the Colliers travel to Longhirst for a derby clash against Morpeth with the seconds at home to Percy Main.