HETTON Lyons continued their bid to chase down the leaders, South North, for what would be their first championship win at Dukes North East Premier League Premier Division level.
And it was by beating the newest of the top-flight teams, newly-promoted Whitburn, that they were able to stay on the table-toppers’ coat-tails.
A strong batting display took Lyons to 211 for the loss of nine wickets in 46.1 overs, with Lal Kumar (69), Jarvis Clay (44) and Chris Varley (35) the star trio.
Kumar continued his outstanding form with 11 fours and three sixes from just 56 balls, though Craig Smith impressed with the ball for the Villagers, grabbing 4-63, while Scott Condy took 3-59 and Mark Elliott 2-27.
Martin Pollard (5-33) became Lyons’ man-of-the-match as the home side were bowled out for 139, with Varley snaffling 3-34. Ross Carty (44, with six fours and a six) was the only Whitburn batter to top 16.
Hetton’s victory, by an impressive margin of 72 runs, matched South North’s win over Durham Academy point for point, leaving Lyons just 16 behind the leaders.
South North’s success was equally impressive as Jonny Wightman (3-41) was on top form to make sure they only needed 133 for a victory by five wickets.
James Thompson (53) and Reece Carr (40) showed their potential, and Asher Hart (3-39) was the pick of the bowlers for the Academy.
Neither Chester-le-Street nor Benwell Hill got the upper hand in their attractive, drawn clash.
Benwell managed 211-9 despite losing four of their middle order batsmen whilst adding just 10 runs, but they completed their 65 overs with the earlier efforts of Rammi Singh (57 from 61 balls) and Zohaib Khan (49) providing the substance.
Max Morley (3-58) and David Foster (4-58) bowled almost 40 of Chester’s overs between them.
In reply, the Cestrians looked to be in real trouble when they slipped to 69-5, but they went on to finish on 189-8 after a 60-run sixth wicket partnership between Chris Youldon (48) and Callum Thorp (37) spared their blushes.
Sunderland’s poor run of form continued as they lost to Blaydon by nine wickets, their third consecutive defeat leaving them well adrift of a top-half placing – they are currently eighth.
Durham starlet Ryan Buckley (4-32) and former county spinner Graeme Bridge (4-33) combined to shoot out the Ashbrooke side for just 126, with Mike Dunn trying his best to stem the tide of wickets.
He stubbornly faced no less than 136 balls for 36 runs and spent 144 minutes at the crease, but his battling effort was to go unrewarded. Imrah Shah added 24.
Blaydon took just 23.3 overs to rattle off the runs, with Paul Underwood (57no) and Ken McClure (50no) the in-form partnership as they put on exactly 100 to win the match, with James Davies taking the only wicket to fall.
Tynemouth and Newcastle played out a draw at Preston Avenue, but the hosts are wondering just how they failed to win after setting a target of 277-7, and then reducing the visitors to 177-9 as David Hymers (6-51 in 20 overs) continued his outstanding form.
Tim Hughes was the hero, hitting an unbeaten 90 and facing 127 balls, and sharing in an unbroken last-wicket stand of defiance with Callum Harding (4 not out, off 14 balls) which took Newcastle to an improbable 224-9 when stumps, and the match, were drawn.
Stockton moved up a place to third by crushing bottom club Gateshead Fell by a massive 142 runs.
Matty Brown (91) was in fine form as he hit 15 fours and a six before Richard Waite (3-27) led the dismissal of Fell.