CHESTER-le-Street are set for a late fight to finish in the top three – even though they look to have left it too late to make a bid for the Dukes North East Premier League championship.
One of their most impressive victories of the season – by eight wickets against Hetton Lyons – gave them the day’s biggest points haul, moving the Ropery Lane men closer to Sunderland, whose own victory kept them in third place.
Bowling at his best, Andrew Tye grabbed 6-43 in 16.4 overs, with five maidens, to peg back Lyons, who were all out for 132 after struggling for most of the 56.4 overs.
Kamran Shah was unbeaten on 30, facing 84 balls in a stubborn innings.
Lyons’ bowlers were unable to replicate Tye’s skills and Chester romped to victory in 35.5 overs. Simon Birtwisle (43) and Quentin Hughes (31) gave them the perfect start and Andrew Smith (44 not out) finished the job in style. Between them, they hit 19 boundaries.
Former leaders Sunderland got back to winning form after a couple of defeats. Jaspreet Singh was the inspiration behind their four-wicket Ashbrooke victory against South Shields.
He took 4-35 in 14.2 overs to help dismiss Shields for 147, with Greg Davison (2-35) providing excellent support. Mike Turns (56) and Ashley Thorpe (29) then shared a classy partnership after opener Mark Dale (39) had given Sunderland a fine start. Chris Rainbow (31) top-scored for Shields for whom Mattie Muchall (4-41) again impressed.
Leaders Blaydon won by four wickets at Benwell Hill. Craig Simpson (3-25), Chris Varley (3-35) and Cole McConchie (2-36) proved a match-winning trio as the hosts were dismissed for 158.
Mark Drake, unbeaten with 46, followed the example of opener Ben Raine (36) to secure victory despite five wickets for Zohaib Khan.
Blaydon extended their lead by seven points to 30 after closest rivals South North, despite beating Durham Academy, gained fewer points.
Academy never allowed the South North batsmen to dominate and they were bowled out for 158 with Grant Nicholson (4-27) in fine form. But South North took up the challenge, with Lee Crozier (4-27) and Paul Coughlin (3-27) bowling the youngsters out for 106.
Keaton Jennings followed his Durham debut with an impressive return to club cricket, grabbing five wickets in Stockton’s 123-run defeat of Newcastle.
Bottom club Gateshead Fell succumbed by 10 wickets at Tynemouth, for whom David Hymers snatched seven wickets.