A second defeat of the summer has left Dawdon with a mountain to climb if they’re to prise the First Division title away from leaders Esh Winning who, after thrashing Hylton, enjoy a 41-point lead at the top of the table.
Crook Town arrived at Green Drive on a mission – to blot out the memories of that sensational match back in May when they effectively gifted Dawdon a tie when their last five wickets fell without a run being scored.
And Saturday’s game had uncanny similarities, with Dawdon batting first and posting a modest score, Steve Chapman then leading the Town run chase, and five wickets down with the winning post in sight.
But that was as close as it got to a repeat, Chapman ensuring there would be no slip-ups this time around as his undefeated 70 secured a five-wicket Crook win by passing Dawdon’s total of 165. Stephen Gale (28), Ryan Consitt (25) and John Leslie (24) top-scored for Dawdon, while Leslie bagged three Crook wickets and David Renwick two.
With Esh hosting already doomed Boldon CA this coming Saturday, and Dawdon facing a tough test at unbeaten Mainsforth, it could well be the case that the title race will be as good as over come the weekend.
Esh Winning took a huge stride towards championship glory when their emphatic home win over relegation-threatened Hylton was accompanied by that defeat for Dawdon.
Hylton were expected to provide a stronger challenge on Saturday, but they were simply overpowered as their hosts rattled up 261-8 in just 43 overs, skipper Dave Lawlor adding a second century of the summer to his already impressive aggregate.
Lawlor’s 108 came from just 78 balls and, with Jonathan Hodgson adding a blistering, unbeaten 68 from 25 balls, the declaration came on the fall of the eighth wicket.
Hylton never got out of the blocks in their reply, their first six batsmen mustering just 48 runs between them. Despite some late-order belligerence from Liam Foster (39 from 22 balls), Hodgson was able to add four wickets to his earlier runs as Hylton subsided to 122 all out.
Durham City (230-7 declared) and Mainsforth (179-5) slugged each other to a standstill in a game that did not do their title prospects any good.
Nick Maiolo (70 and 3-32) continued to lift City spirits following his recent return to the club, and Jonny Barnes (3-19 from 12 overs and 33) was in fine fettle for the visitors, but the bottom line is that draws are no use to the two sides at this moment in time.
At the opposite end of the table, Bill Quay put some clear blue water between themselves and the relegation placings with an impressive victory over visitors Philadelphia.
A superb spell of bowling by Micky Orridge, who took six wickets for 16 runs in 11.5 overs, saw Phili’s last seven wickets evaporate for 19 runs as they slumped to 103 all out.
There were one or two nerves on display when Quay started losing wickets in similar fashion, but then Usman Malvi banished the blues as he blasted eight fours and two sixes, reaching his half-century in just 21 balls as the home team won with five wickets to spare.
Horden and Easington produced a rather stagnant derby draw, Jamie Greenwood’s 83 holding Vint Dhulap (4-40) and Jordan Wilson (4-35) at bay enough for the hosts to score 181 in 48.3 overs.
But then Easington made little attempt to go for the runs in the 41 overs available as they finished on 126-5. Dhulap (41), Ryan Higgins (31) and Jason Moses (25) led the scoring, with Adam Dixon bagging two wickets.
Castle Eden duly won their game against Boldon CA, although the bottom club did put up a spirited display in the field as they pinned the visitors down to 164-9 in 47 overs, with Stuart Smith picking up five wickets.
Unfortunately, their batting didn’t match their bowling, and, with Ryan Ball bagging 5-19, CA were bowled out for 77.