Ben O’Brien struck his fifth half century of the season to lead Ashington to a crucial and exciting victory by two wickets against Shotley Bridge on Saturday.
Amid glorious sunny conditions during the early evening session, and with the tension increasing during the Colliers’ reply, the 26-year-old right hander kept a cool head.
He said: “I’ve had three really good and important knocks this season – the innings against Shotley Bridge at Langwell Crescent; a century in the clash with Percy Main after we had lost quick wickets then my unbeaten 56 today.
“The situation was getting nervous. I thought we were in control until they struck, removing Stephen Boyd and Paul Rutherford in two deliveries.
“However, I was always confident and after I hit a six into the trees followed by a four from consecutive deliveries, the pendulum swung back in our favour.
“I enjoyed the knock enormously because after not featuring over the past month, it was nice to get runs for the side in such an important game.”
Skipper Greg Williams said: “On a lovely little ground with a cracking wicket and the sun shining, I lost the toss and they elected to bat.
“We got off to a good start with a wicket and bowled tightly before they moved away, putting a good partnership on through Collingwood and Greenwell to such an extent that at one point I had thoughts of us chasing 250-260.
“But all credit to the bowlers as Shotley didn’t get away from us.
“Everyone bowled good spells then Paul Rutherford came into the attack and along with Ani (Singh), the pair performed well in tandem.
“I was delighted to bowl them out for 175 and was also chuffed to bits with the fielding and catching, which was excellent, especially after the defeat the previous week to Swalwell.
“We bounced back massively and apart from Rutherford’s run out of Stuart Graham, which was another key moment, wicketkeeper Dan Grant also played his part.
“In reply, Neil Wood’s dismissal was a blow but Ani and Jack Jessop steadied the ship until Ani got out to the spinner for 37.
“Jack grafted and batted really well getting into the forties again, but then he finds a way to get out.”
Williams praised batsman Ben O’Brien whose unbeaten 56 ensured victory.
“Paul Rutherford and myself said in the dressing rooms that Ben’s knock was one of the best we have seen given the situation where he was under pressure but remained patient and put the bad ball away.
“He didn’t give a chance and it was a class knock.
“We lost Dan Grant, Stephen Boyd and Matty Storey fairly quickly but it happens in games like this.
“We have had tied matches here before and contests which have gone right to the wire and these are great clashes to win yet bitter to lose.
“We needed 17 to win with two wickets in hand and we were looking at a different game, but when Ben hit a six and a four, the ball was back in our court.”
Ashington are 13 points behind leaders Swalwell with five matches remaining, and Williams will adopt the old cliché of taking one game at a time.
“There are no easy fixtures in this league and I’m not going to get hyped up about the situation,” he said.
“All I want is for the lads to give 100 per cent week in week out. If that is enough to win games - then great.”