Ashington Cricket Club vice-captain Ben O’Brien believes the Colliers should focus their attentions on runners-up spot in the Go North East Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League.
This was after conceding that they are out of the running in a bid to retain the title they won last season for the first time since 2001.
Whilst the Colliers – who went into their away clash at Ryton more than 50 points adrift of leaders Swalwell – were left frustrated as rain forced the clash at Parsons Park to be abandoned, the Derwenthaugh side – coupled with nearest challengers Shotley Bridge slipping up at home to Lanchester – were strengthening their grip at the top after picking up a 20 points maximum win against Percy Main.
With only five games remaining, Swalwell now lead Shotley by a 38-point margin – the two meet on August 19 with Ashington fourth.
O’Brien said: “We haven’t played well in a couple of games and others which have been rained off haven’t helped us, but as we are 68 points behind Swalwell, they are too far ahead of us to be caught.
“Nevertheless we want to finish the season strongly and have both Swalwell and Shotley Bridge to play at home, and if we can get good results between now and the end of the campaign then maybe runners-up spot would be a more realistic target.”
After yet another early order collapse on Saturday, O’Brien saw his outfit, who were 40-4 at one stage, rally to finish on 174-9.
“I lost the toss and wasn’t happy with our start,” he said.
“We lost a few early wickets again before the two Jacks – Jessop and McCarthy – put on 73 for the fifth wicket and batted well.
“On quite a slow wicket, Jessop got 49 whilst McCarthy hit an unbeaten 59 and found a bit of form batting down the order.
“From the position we were in, to get to 174 was a decent effort and was probably a par score on that wicket.”
McCarthy’s knock came from 67 deliveries and included four fours and one six, whilst for the hosts, David Howarth (4-40) and Jordan O’Neill (4-32) shared eight wickets.
Ryton were on 32 without loss when stumps were drawn following two downpours
“We were loose for the first few overs but then got on top,” said O’Brien.
“Matty Collins and Callum Storey bowled back to back maidens and a couple of edges didn’t go to hand.
“We put pressure on their batsmen and I thought we had a good chance to defend our total.
“After a very heavy shower, water seeped under the covers onto the pitch, but it was the second interruption which really knocked the game on its head as there was standing water on the square.”
Meanwhile Ashington’s first XI, without a few regulars, were knocked out of the Smithson Cup last midweek by Dukes ECB North East Premier outfit Benwell Hill.
Benwell Hill 146-5 (Sameet Brar 38); Ashington 77 all out (James Harmison 21).
On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Swalwell.
Ryton 9 points
Ashington 8 points