The destination of the Go North East Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League championship is heading towards a grand crescendo.
With three games remaining, Shotley Bridge’s victory over leaders Swalwell at the Spa on Saturday cut the deficit at the top to five points, while Ashington’s eight wickets success over Leadgate – which represented their 12th win of the campaign – sees the Colliers remain in third place in the table trailing Swalwell by 38 points.
And what a humdinger of a game is in prospect at Langwell Crescent this Saturday as the Wansbeck side host Shotley.
At Leadgate, Dan Grant was the focal point of attention. He scored a brilliant maiden century and led his side to an emphatic victory as they chased down the hosts score of 169 in only 19.2 overs.
Grant’s 50 came in 33 minutes and from 38 balls, but he bettered that with his second half century coming from only 17 deliveries.
He was at the crease for 69 minutes for his amazing knock, including an extra high ratio of boundaries – 18 fours and five sixes.
Grant and Neil Wood had begun the reply with an opening stand of 59 inside nine overs, then Grant and Jack Jessop (13) added 81 before vice-captain Ben O’Brien (24 not out) completed the victory with a six.
Earlier in the afternoon, Robbie Hockaday had scored 10 boundaries in a top-scoring 80 for the hosts, who were eventually bowled out for 169 in the 47th over, Leadgate losing their last four wickets for only 12 runs.
All five Ashington bowlers had a successful session with the ball. Matty Collins – who took a five-wicket haul the previous week in the crushing win against Swalwell – led the way with 4-28, while Paul Rutherford chipped in with 2-31, Ian Sharkey (2-47), Matty Potts (1-33) and Matty Storey (1-26).
Century maker Grant said: “It’s brilliant to score a hundred. I had accepted that batting at six or seven down the order, it might not happen – but at the end of the day it is all about the side winning the game because if you score a hundred and lose the game it counts for nothing.
“To reach the magic three figures for the first time was a nice feeling.”
In his earlier career, Grant was an opening batsman and he said: “I’m finally back to where I like to be. I enjoy it because the ball is hard and comes onto the bat. I generally tend to get a lot of starts then I’m out and I’m looking to improve on that.”
*On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Shotley Bridge (1.30pm).