By Chris West
SEAHAM Park overcame Washington to move 15 points clear at the top – and with just three games remaining, all against bottom of the table teams, the title is now theirs to lose.
While Park avoided a banana skin to win by three wickets in a closely-fought game, neighbours Harbour were being held in the Seaham derby by Dawdon, a result which meant they fell another six points behind and are now reliant on a major slip up by their rivals.
Washington have proved to be one of the most difficult sides to overcome this season, losing just three times in 18 matches prior to Saturday’s home game against the leaders.
They batted carefully to post a challenging 166-8 in 50 overs. Andrew Ebdale (48) and Joe Thompson (31) dug them out of an early hole as Stuart Pattison (3-22 in 12 overs) and James Ferguson (4-33 in 11) held the upper hand.
But any thoughts Park had of a stroll across the finishing line were quickly dispelled as they lost their first three batsmen for just nine runs.
It was only the brilliance of 15 year-old Dale Shaw, allied to the know-how of Pattison, that pulled them round.
Pattison made 45 and held the innings together, while youngster Shaw showed maturity beyond his years as he stroked seven fours and a six in his half-century.
With the recovery almost complete Alan Dick (24no) then guided his team to victory, the winning runs coming up with just two balls of the match remaining.
Harbour gave a feisty home display against Dawdon, notching up 202-3 with Sean McKenna top scoring on 69.
Dawdon then got themselves into some early bother as they lost three quick wickets and it took half-centuries from Stephen Gale and Bob Stephenson to pull things round, the visitors eventually closing on 150-8 to thwart Anthony Watson (4-25).
Tributes were paid to the late Ian Bellerby both before and during Boldon CA’s match at Hylton and in a subdued atmosphere, CA earned a 73-run success on the back of a glorious century from Lee Jackson, who cracked 12 fours and five sixes in his unbeaten innings.
Lee Rushworth tried to reply in kind when Hylton set off in pursuit of the daunting 207-5 target, smashing nine fours and three sixes in his 59.
However, three wickets each for Carl Watson, David Batty and Tommy Nixon earned Boldon the points that kept them in the title race.
In the day’s other games, John Sample (5-19) had Ryhope in a spin as Easington easily knocked off 68 to win by nine wickets and Dave Brown (6-19) skittled Peterlee for 87, Bill Quay winning by 113 runs.
H Sacriston turned over Annfield Plain by six wickets in the Wellstream Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League, shooting their visitors out for 106 as Melvyn Betts (4-31) destroyed their early batting.
Plain bit back to have Sacriston 46-4 but Harry Hubber (32no) and Chris Winn (42no) settled things in a match winning fifth wicket partnership of 61.
The victory kept Sacriston right on Swalwell’s tail, with just three points sep