Ashington back to winning way

NE Premier Div 1:Shotley Bridge 138 all out;Ashington 140-7(Ashington won by 3 wickets)It was perhaps fitting that at the end of a week where Ashington’s first team coach Stevie Williams retired after 48 years working for the NHS at the RVI Hospital in Newcastle, that the Mighty Acorns returned to winning ways with a hard fought and tense victory over Shotley Bridge at Langwell Crescent.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 11:54 am
Stevie Williams

Fitting because Sean McCafferty’s side had to display some of the qualities with which Williams included so gracefully during his career with Bomarsund and Ashington

On several occasions, all rounder Williams - a middle order batsman and right arm spin bowler - would steady the ship and change the course of an innings if not by a flamboyant knock then alternatively one of sheer guts, full blooded determination and concentration. And on Saturday, Ashington’s batsmen had to show all of those latter qualities in abundance.

A difficult pitch coupled to weather which alternated from warm sunshine to cold – and vice versa - as the sea fret rolled in across the pitch, made things far from easy. Add to that the opposition from Durham and games between the two sides spanning many years which are always close, fascinating and well fought encounters. Saturday’s again fell into that category after Shotley had won the toss and elected to bat.

They came up against an accurate Ashington bowling attack and runs were consequently hard to come by.

At the half way stage, the visitors had 56 on the board but were also five wickets down. Cameron Skinner made the opening incision as with the fifth ball of the tenth over, he trimmed the bails to bowl Dan Anderson – who had scored a century against Ashington in the corresponding fixture a few weeks ago - for nine.

Then in the 15th, Kieran Milburn edged a delivery from Matty Collins and wicketkeeper Jack McCarthy dived to his right to take a spectacular one handed catch only inches from the ground.

Shortly afterwards, Collins struck again trapping Jack Rowley leg before and at 27-3, the visitors were in all sorts of trouble. Ross Burdon and Lewis Hall staged a mini recovery with a stand of 29 but from the final delivery of the 27th, the former was well caught by Adam Nichol off Ian Sharkey.

Only a few balls later, and with no addition to the score, an lbw appeal led by bowler Ben Harmison was answered in the affirmative to send back Christopher Robb. Hall continued to push up the scoring rate with support initially from Charlie Collingwood until the latter stepped out of his crease to James Harmison and was stumped by McCarthy.

Ross Andrews joined Hall who completed his half century before falling for 68 with Collins holding onto a far from easy catch as he ran around from deep mid wicket. That fell on 123 and the innings was duly wrapped up 15 runs later with Callum Storey adding the scalps of Andrews and Oliver Gibson to his tally and Sharkey claiming the last with Joe Gibson stumped by McCarthy.

In reply, Shotley’s Robb struck in the second over when he bowled a peach of a delivery to opener Ben Harmison who nicked behind to Andrews.

Applying caution, Jack Jessop and Adam Nichol chipped away at the target grafting hard for runs and the pair had added 56 when the former fell lbw to Joe Gibson for 30, an innings which included a classic cover drive, hit on the up.

All of a sudden the runs began to dry up and when Nichol also departed leg before for 26, the home side were 67-3. McCafferty knuckled down and came close to steering his side to victory. He had put on 35 with McCarthy until the latter became the fifth lbw victim of the match and then partnered by James Harmison, the concentration shown by the pair was evident as they got nearer the target.

But with 16 runs required, McCafferty shovelled a delivery from Oliver Gibson to point where he was caught by Robb – and the dismissal sparked a nervy finale with the Storey brothers, Matty and Callum both falling to Robb in the 35th over.

Meanwhile Harmison was coolness personified and after he had creamed a drive through extra cover for four, it was Cameron Skinner who ensured the win with a boundary in the 39th over as he clipped a delivery from Robb through mid wicket.

*On Saturday (June 5), Ashington firsts are at home to Philadelphia whilst the second eleven travel to face Benwell Hill.