Ashington slipped to their first defeat in six matches on Saturday amid a nervous finale against Swalwell at Derwenthaugh Park.
On a day where in excess of 500 runs were scored, Colliers’ overseas player Anirudh Singh scorched his third century of the campaign whilst Simon Prudhoe and Neil Wood also smashed excellent knocks.
However defending champions Swalwell are bang in the running again this season even though they are currently perched in third place in the table, 20 points adrift of leaders Tynedale with three weeks remaining.
And in opening batsman Chris Hewison they have a precious gem – the ex-Nottinghamshire man being both a key and leading figure on Saturday as Greg Williams side will testify after he steered his side to within sight of victory with a magnificent and chance less knock of 141.
But whilst Swalwell continue to harbour hopes of retaining the crown, the consequent defeat has surely ended Ashington’s softly, softly approach towards success.
Williams and his outfit – on their return to the top flight – have been a breath of fresh air whilst continually playing down their own title aspirations.
And last weekend, Swalwell only sealed the win with two balls remaining.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Williams was delighted as openers Wood and Singh added 90 for the first wicket inside 22 overs before Wood was lbw to Andrew Smith for 44.
Singh and Prudhoe continued with the runs feast and the pair had shared a stand of 122 when the former was caught by Nicky Philips off Guy Saxton for 111.
His innings came from 114 balls and included seven boundaries and three sixes.
The Colliers lost wickets as they made for a final push, Prudhoe’s knock coming to an end when he was run out for 65 from 79 deliveries before they closed on 261-6.
In the first over of the reply, Lloyd Anderson – a nemesis to Ashington over the years – was caught behind by wicketkeeper Daniel Grant off Callum Storey for nought.
But Ashington’s joy was short lived as Hewison dominated a second wicket stand with Phillips, effortlessly stroking his way to his 50 in the 18th over followed by him reaching his century in the 29th out of a score of 154.
Callum Storey returned to send Phillips’ stump cartwheeling out of the ground before, in the 40th over, Hewison – on 141 – danced down the track to Singh and was stumped by Grant.
Swalwell required 44 but the Colliers turned the game on its head as Craig Wood was on a hat-trick after uprooting Stephen Smith then having Andrew Smith brilliantly stumped by Grant.
The hosts had whittled their target down to 30 off six overs – but the Colliers were rejuvenated even further when another lightning stumping by Grant accounted for Jason Dumighan.
Ashington’s fielding had cranked up a notch and it was nerve jangling fare before the defending champions clinched victory from the fourth ball of the last over, with Lee Whitfield (40 not out) and Paul Dumighan (10 not out) seeing them home.
On Saturday, Ashington firsts are at home to Consett.
Ashington 8 points
Swalwell 18 points