Ashington toppled league leaders Backworth at Langwell Crescent on Saturday by a 38-run margin and closed the gap at the top of the A2 division of the Wellstream Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League to just two points.
The Colliers are in a really good seam at present – Saturday’s success brought a sixth successive victory – and they were worthy winners of what was a classic contest.
And although skipper Greg Williams will point to an all round performance in all three departments, Daniel Grant, who had been coming in to bat as low as number nine in the order in previous league matches, emerged from the day with distinction, finishing as top scorer with an outstanding contribution of 75 after being thrust into the deep end as a makeshift opener.
Williams won the toss, but with regular opener Scott Dunn due to arrive a mere ten minutes before the scheduled starting time, Williams turned to Grant to open with Neil Wood – and the move paid huge dividends.
There was an early setback for the Colliers as Wood was caught at cover by Backworth skipper Mark Minto in the third over.
But joy turned to despair for the Backworth skipper shortly afterwards when he sustained an horrific finger injury whilst fielding and was whisked away to Wansbeck General Hopital.
Ashington, through Grant and Simon Prudhoe made great strides, the latter completing his half century in the 25th over from 73 balls.
But minutes later following a break for drinks and with the home score advanced onto 112, Prudhoe, having despatched nine boundaries, was pouched by Michael Race at short mid-wicket for 56.
Dunn fell lbw in the next over then Sonu Singh, after smashing a six through mid-wicket, became the fourth casualty, being trapped leg before to Majid Ansari for 11.
Grant reached his 50 in the 39th over with a cover drive for four before Backworth picked up the wicket of Steve Harmison, who was caught by Ansari off Ravi Teja for 12.
Matty Storey and Williams fell in quick succession then Grant, who had racked up nine fours in 75, eventually succumbed, caught by Joy Saini off Ian Stubbs in the penultimate over.
Callum Storey was bowled first ball with the home innings closing on 191 when Craig Wood was bowled by Teja, the spinner claiming 5-43 from 14.5 overs.
The league leaders got off to a flying start through Alan Robson and Ravi Teja, who added 34 inside the first eight overs.
However, with the first ball of the ninth, Callum Storey, who was generating a fair bit of pace from the Langwell Crescent end, removed Robson lbw.
Three overs later, the Colliers got the prize scalp of elegant stroke maker Teja.
Williams had brought spinner Chris Watson into the attack to replace Singh and when he tempted Teja to drive, Harmison, stationed at mid-off, made the catch look easy.
That dismissal came with the score on 48, and to further highlight the high standard of the home fielding, Ansari fell to a terrific take by Singh on the long boundary, then Craig Wood made great strides to pocket another fine effort which brought Terry Finchen’s innings to an end.
Wickets continued to fall and with the visitors only batting with ten men with Minto sidelined, Stubbs was last man out, bowled by Williams for 16 with their total on 153.
Chris Watson took another three wickets following his triple success at Cowgate the previous week to end with 3-38 from 11 overs, and Greg Williams also had an identical haul, picking up 3-28 from nine.
Callum Storey and Singh finished with one wicket apiece in this victory by 38 runs.
Ashington 20 points
Backworth 8 points
On Saturday Ashington travel to face Greenside with the second XI at home to Shotley Bridge.