EASINGTON’S excellent run of form came to an end when they crashed to a 26-run home defeat at the hands of 3D Sports Durham Coast League leaders Murton.
With Dawdon lowering neighbours Seaham Park’s colours, it now looks increasingly like a three-horse race for the title with just eight games of the season to go.
Murton, who raced out of the traps to establish a dominant lead in the early part of the campaign, had seen their advantage whittled away in recent weeks, and the team doing the principle whittling had been Easington after a six-game winning streak.
Inevitably in this bowler-dominated “summer” run-scoring was difficult, and when Easington dismissed Murton for a paltry 91 it looked for all intents and purposes as though they were going to become the new leaders of the pack.
Ryan Higgins (4-34) did the main damage in a five-man attack who all got their names in the wicket-taking column, however an obdurate 20 from Dave Hanson, and a slightly more carefree 19 not out from Richard Bentley, were to prove absolutely crucial.
Just how crucial was demonstrated as Easington’s first three batsmen mustered just five runs between them, a position from which they just couldn’t recover as Bentley went through them in a match-winning spell of 6-24. Two wickets apiece for John Sample and Keith Chapman completed the rout as the home team slumped to a dejected 65 all out.
With Easington collecting just five points from their defeat, Dawdon leapfrogged them into second place as they rolled local rivals Seaham Park over by eight wickets.
Park laboured through 45 overs in making 138, their total owing much to Umar Akhtar’s careful 42 which included just three boundaries.
Dawdon’s control was exerted by a five-man attack in which each one picked up two wickets. Shoaib Akhtar went on to be the match-winner with an unusually restrained innings of 56 not out that took his team to victory in 42 overs.
The combination of results amongst the leading four left Murton with a 26 point lead over Dawdon, and Easington now seven further back in third. Park are now rank outsiders after slipping 56 points behind the top dogs.
At the other end of the table, Peterlee can’t get a result for love or money, their game at Hylton over within a total of 54 overs following their dismissal for 76. Adam Bewick was the nemesis, claiming superb figures of 7-15.
Ryhope and Seaham Harbour were locked together in mid-table with almost identical records before their meeting, but Harbour sailed away into the soggy sunset with an emphatic eight-wicket victory.
The home team struggled through 30.5 overs and managed just 98 runs, the main source of their batting problems being Jack Lacey who bagged a return of 5-25.
And Harbour had little trouble in coasting to success, the winning runs coming up inside 26 overs as Stuart Pattison hit five fours and a six in his unbeaten 39, Sean McKenna (22no) accompanying him in the victory parade as the pair shared an unbroken match-winning stand of 62.
With Silksworth’s game at Bill Quay totally waterlogged, Washington were washed out after reaching 151-6 against Boldon CA, and as the latest torrential downpour swirled into the drains so did their outside hopes of championship success.