Washington and Brandon lead the way

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Dukes North East Premier League Division One by Chris West

IT LOOKS like the calculators will be needed next week when the Mini-League reaches its conclusion as four teams remain in with a shout of becoming the mini marvels.

Washington and Brandon moved into pole position – they now both have seven points – but just one point behind them are Sacriston and South Hetton with net run rate set to determine the eventual winners should there be two or more teams sharing top spot come this Saturday night.

The fixture list was drawn up on a random basis, so it might have been expected that at least a couple of the front runners would clash on the final day, but remarkably that’s not the case with all four facing opponents who are out of the running, and, by another quirk of fixture fate, all four are playing at home.

Boldon’s hopes were being extinguished by visitors Washington.

Melvyn Betts’ 71 propped up a wobbling Washington innings which at one time stood on 23-4.

Betts’ intervention raised the bar to 175-8 and then he and Mark Watson shared six wickets as Boldon evaporated for 101.

Sacriston and Brandon made it by the skin of their teeth with desperately close victories, Sacriston’s coming by eight runs at home to Felling, while Brandon just got past a battling Seaham Harbour with two runs to spare in a high-scoring thriller.

It looked as though it would be “thank you very much and goodnight” to Sacriston when they were skittled for a paltry 92 at Felling, only Ian Hunter’s 28 managing to give the batting effort a semblance of respectability as Ant Trotter and Jonny Nicholls shared six cheap wickets.

When Felling reached 47-1, it looked like game over, with Aussie James Crosthwaite looking good on 28. But, when he was caught off Martin Hubber’s bowling, the rot set in, and, with nine wickets crashing for just 37 runs, Sacriston emerged as surprise winners.

Graham Hubber (4-23), Martin Hubber (3-19) and Mo Ali (2-14) revelled as wickets fell.

A brilliant innings from Ian Pattison was not enough to get his Seaham Harbour team over the line as he ran out of partners with the winning post in sight.

Brandon rattled up 240-8 in their 45 overs, John Carmedy making 85 from 117 balls, and Stuart Poynter 69 from 55 balls with five fours and two sixes.

Then Pattison’s one-man assault on the target began. Despite losing partners at regular intervals Pattison kept his nerve, hitting five fours and six sixes as he raced along to a run-a-ball century.

And it looked like he was going to pull it off when he and number 10 Stephen Sennett (29) were together until a last throw of the dice from Brandon saw youngster Cameron Messer handed the ball.

He bowled Sennett and then had last man Peter Hambleton caught for a duck to leave Harbour marooned on 238 all out, and Pattison the only man left on deck with 117 to his name.

South Hetton (157) took a 100 per cent record with them to Willington (158-7), but their hosts were in no mood to roll over.

Despite a fighting 61 from skipper Robbie Atherton, South Hetton must now hope for a last day slip-up from both the teams above them.

There was little at stake in the game at South Shields other than pride, but for Shields, who were relegated from the Premier Division after a winless 2013 campaign, there was great relief as they bagged victory by seven wickets after dumping visitors Eppleton out for just 71.

Star of the show was Durham’s Gordon Muchall – but not with the bat. Muchall claimed impressive bowling figures of six wickets for 12 runs from nine overs. With Gareth Dunn picking up 2-16, only Kyle Davis (18) and Calum Jefferson (19) put up any sort of resistance as Eppleton slumped to their modest total in 28 overs.

The loss of two quick wickets set Shields’ hearts thumping for a while, but young Aussie Tim David settled nerves with a flowing unbeaten 40 scored from 53 balls and including two fours and a six. David’s innings took Shields through to the long overdue success in just 17 overs.