BURNMOOR are back on top of the Readers Durham Cricket League table after a hard-fought bank holiday victory over Easington which earned them a crucial 28 points.
The Moor laboured through 45 overs to reach 170-7 before declaring, South African Brydon Carse hitting six boundaries in a vital unbeaten half century after Stephen Meek (25) and Dave Lowther (30) had laid solid foundations.
The rest struggled against the bowling of Gary Ward (2-28) and Dane Wilson (2-38), with only Martin Thursfield able to get into double figures.
Easington then caused more furrowed brows for the home team when they reached 60-1, and then 112-3, but then Ian Conn, Meek and Carse each picked up two wickets to add to the early strikes from Karl Bellerby (3-28), and the visitors suddenly crumbled to 151 all out in 39 overs, losing their last seven wickets for just 39 runs.
Meanwhile the leaders at the start of the day, Tudhoe, were having trouble with Castle Eden even though the game started well enough as they piled on 239-5 in 40.5 overs and then declared.
Danny Thexton was in brilliant form with a scintillating 131 not out made from 118 balls, and including nine fours and eight sixes.
But the Castle dug in, Shivram Dube leading the backs to the wall effort with 62 from 118 balls, and even though outstanding youngster Alex McGrath grabbed 3-13 from eight overs the visitors managed to hang on and close out on 154-8 after surviving 48 overs.
The 16 points Tudhoe gained were not enough to keep them ahead of Burnmoor who went six clear at close of play.
Dawdon boosted their hopes of a top four finish with a six-wicket home win over Mainsforth who were bundled out for a paltry 73 in 25.3 overs.
The visitors’ innings was dominated by one man, Mohammed Nawaz hitting eight fours and one six in a battling 51, but no one else made it to double figures as John Leslie picked up an impressive 5-23 in 12 overs.
The run chase wasn’t that straightforward as Nawaz then grabbed four retaliatory wickets, but 28 from Stephen Gale, and an unbeaten 20 from Ryan Consitt, were enough to get the job done as victory arrived inside 20 overs.
Horden, another team with their eyes on the leading positions, polished off Boldon CA by nine wickets, Scott Birks (5-18 in 5.3 overs) and Adam Dixon (4-12 in 7 overs) running through CA after Shashank Singh had smashed 2 fours and 4 sixes in a run-a-ball 51. Set a target of 96 Horden rattled off the required runs in just 15.3 overs, Wayne Birks headlining with 11 fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 67 made from only 47 balls faced.
Philadelphia hit their batting straps at Bunker Hill, racing to 221-3 in 45 overs against Hylton.
Anthony Hornby cracked six fours and three sixes in his 79-ball 56, and then Shaun Hauxwell lifted the tempo further with eight fours and two sixes as he stroked 76 from 109 balls faced.
David Baxter (33no) and Lee Innes (30) also filled their batting boots as Phili set their demanding target.
Hylton’s reply just never got going as Stephen Robinson picked up four wickets for 41 runs in his 12 overs, and it was only courtesy of a late 32 from Gavin Barnes that Hylton managed to nudge past the 100 mark before their final wicket fell.
With Hylton gaining just a single point in their defeat it plunged them into relegation trouble as Marsden won for only the fifth time this season to narrow the gap between themselves and the third bottom team to just 8 points.
Marsden bowled their hosts Evenwood out for 159 in just 35 overs, Mark Woodhead picking up four of the wickets to fall at a personal cost of just 37 runs, and then Chris Mann struck 42 priceless runs and helped ease the visitors to a four wicket victory inside 41 overs.
In the day’s other game Esh Winning (247-4 declared in 45 overs) couldn’t bowl out Crook Town who managed to cling on at 142-9 after 50 overs of resistance.
The result more or less ended Esh’s hopes of overhauling the leading pair in the final three games of the season as it left them 31 points adrift of Tudhoe.