Ashington went to the top of the A2 division of the Wellstream Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League on Saturday night after completing a five-wicket victory over arch rivals Alnwick at Weavers Way.
The Colliers took over pole position with leaders Backworth having their game at Newcastle City called off due to an unfit ground, whilst Greg Williams’ side leapfrogged Alnwick as a result of this success.
Amid humid yet generally overcast conditions for most of the afternoon, the north Northumberland side got off to a steady start but then capitulated as the Colliers seized back the initiative and tightened their grip to leave them in tatters at 60-8 in the 31st over.
But defiance from the evergreen David Wright, supported by Harry Lobb and Jonathon Roxburgh, enabled the home side to give themselves a respectable score of 109 before the latter was last man out from the fifth ball of the 48th over.
And it was Wright who caused a few anxious moments in the Ashington dressing room late on by taking three quick wickets with the Wansbeck side – driven on magnificently by Neil Wood – within sight of their target.
However, it was both fitting and appropriate that Wood should finish the game off from the last ball of the 27th over as his batting prowess steered the Colliers to victory with an unbeaten 68.
Dan Graham and Robert Green had laid a solid foundation for the home side with 32 from 13 overs, but it all began to go wrong for them in the 14th.
Graham was well caught low down by Steve Harmison off Sonu Singh for 13, then four balls later, Michael Threlfall – whose unbeaten century led Alnwick to victory over the Colliers at Weavers Way last season – was on his way back without scoring after being lured into a drive and edging behind to wicketkeeper Daniel Grant.
The procession continued with Green falling lbw to Chris Watson and Michael Brewis being clean bowled by the pacy Callum Storey.
Then in the 24th over, Jamie Guy stood and watched as he returned a catch which was spectacularly held by bowler Watson.
Gareth Bateman was next, caught around the corner by Wood at 51-6 before skipper Rob Woods became Watson’s fourth wicket of the afternoon, bowled for four.
Andrew Armin saw his off stump pegged back by Harmison at 60-8 and the hosts appeared to be heading towards a low score.
But Wright certainly had other ideas as he battled on valiantly to occupy the crease for over an hour with an unbeaten 34, which left Ashington frustrated before Singh came back from the Rugby end and struck with his third delivery to bowl Lobb.
In the 47th, Roxburgh edged behind to Grant with Alnwick closing on 109.
Watson took 4-34 from a maximum 15 overs with Singh returning 4-22 from 11.5, with one wicket each for Harmison and Storey.
Alnwick’s opening bowlers, Bateman and Roxburgh, steamed in and from the first ball of the seventh over Scott Dunn was trapped plumb in front and consequently given out to an lbw decision with the visitors total on 18.
Adam Nichol was next to go in the 11th, also leg before, but inspired by Wood and with Singh hitting the ball hard, the Ashington pair got into a good rhythm.
Wood completed his 50 in the 19th from 41 balls out of a score of 79-2, and the pair had put on 55 for the third wicket and were looking to take their side home when Wright struck a triple blow.
The right arm spinner tempted Singh down the wicket who was stumped by Armin for 23, then three balls later he held onto a firm drive by Harmison, which he safely pocketed off his own bowling.
In Wright’s next over, Doug Potts edged to Guy at first slip at 93-5 and suddenly the game turned into a nail biter – until Matty Storey and Wood took Ashington home.
Wood took his tally of boundaries to 12 before the close and finished unbeaten on 68.
Alnwick 3 points; Ashington 20 points
On Saturday Ashington’s first XI are without a fixture whilst the seconds are away to Consett.