By Chris West
BATTLING Boldon continued their pursuit of the Warmseal Durham Senior League leaders Kimblesworth as they moved to within seven points.
They took advantage of a stressful day for their rivals to take maximum points from their own game and trim 10 points from their lead.
Kimblesworth would be disappointed they “lost” points in a low-scoring thriller with another of their championship rivals, even though they finished up beating fourth-placed Eppleton by three wickets.
The 20 points they took for the victory, which saw just 158 runs scored and 17 wickets tumble, was in contrast to the 30 points Boldon grabbed in a match in which nearly 500 runs were scored.
Kimblesworth’s bowling duo of Mark Woodhead and Stephen Meek combined to send Eppleton packing for an all-out score of just 77 runs in 21.4 overs.
Woodhead bowled 10.4 overs to finish with five wickets for 26 runs and Meek grabbed the other five wickets in 11 overs at a cost of 47.
But Eppleton hit back strongly, with Sura Malinga (4-30 in 11.5 overs) and Liam Mallaburn (3-26 in ten overs) reducing Kimblesworth to 39 for seven at one stage, before Kevin Dixon (28 not out), batting at number eight, led a magnificent fightback to get the 42 runs needed for what proved a nailbiting victory.
He was partnered by Mark Woodhead, whose unbeaten innings produced a priceless 10 runs to push the leaders over the winning line.
Boldon, who won by a margin of 38 against struggling Philadelphia, produced a challenging batting display.
Geoff Houmark hit an unbeaten 74 out of 248-5, with seven fours and two sixes in his repertoire, but Mike Walker (45), Phil Shakespeare (43 not out) and Karl Bellerby (37) showed the strength in depth of their batting.
Mike Osbourne (3-58 from 15 overs) was the most successful of the Phili bowlers.
Tom Raine (76) and Matthew Noble (68), who between them scored 88 in boundaries, defied the Boldon attack in their bid for what would have been only their second win of the season, but Shakespeare had the last word.
His five wickets over 15 overs came at a cost of 61 runs and stopped Philadelphia in their tracks.
Matthew Sampson-Barnes grabbed the wickets of the Phili top scorers and Bellerby, with two of the other wickets, struck at vital times.
Burnmoor’s championship chase came unstuck when they were held by Castle Eden.
The drawn finish left them in third, but 21 points adrift of Boldon after starting the day just three points behind.
The Moor declared on 212-5 after a half-century from Owen Lancaster, but the Castle didn’t take up the challenge and were 59 runs behind on 153-6 when time was called.
John Spellman junior top-scored with an unbeaten 75.
Meanwhile South Hetton were overpowered by Whitburn for whom Stuart Walker took 4-43 and then followed up with a superb 113 and Jake McCann was another to reach three figures, the Durham City opener inspiring his team to a seven wicket victory at Horden that lifted them off the foot of the table.