Washington cut gap – but rain keeps Shields in charge

South Hetton batsman  Robbie Atherton
South Hetton batsman Robbie Atherton
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TIME is running out for the chasing pack if they are to make inroads into South Shields lead at the top of the Dukes North East Premier League First Division table, and Saturday’s rainswept proceedings have effectively moved the Wood Terrace outfit one game closer to an immediate return to top-flight action.

Not a single game reached a conclusion, and while one or two teams picked up a few bonus points in the truncated proceedings, Shields are now just six games away from glory.

The rain may well have helped them in their cause as they were not in brilliant shape in their home match against Willington, having been bowled out for a modest 145 in 50.4 overs. The players then took tea, but that was the end of the proceedings as the deluge hit.

Mike Fishwick did a great job in holding the Shields innings together otherwise things could have been a lot worse. He faced 110 balls in making 53, a knock that included six boundaries, and held off the attentions of Max Bailey (3-27) and Gaurav Jathar (4-29) after the early batsmen had failed.

Shields took seven points from the match, but saw three trimmed off their lead which was cut back to 31 when second-placed Washington piled on 202-6 against Eppleton to claim a maximum batting return.

Skipper Ash Thorpe was once again in fine form for the Newtowners, coming to the crease with the score on 47-3 to join with Dan Woolston in a partnership of 111 runs that gave his side the upper hand.

Woolston eventually fell for 57, scored from 99 balls, but Thorpe continued his dominance to lift his side past the 200 mark at which point a declaration was made with 48.1 overs bowled.

Thorpe was 85 not out, an innings which included six fours and two sixes and came from 91 balls.

But, with Washington in apparent control, it was once again the tea interval that was the watershed – literally!

The most play came at Boldon – almost 82 overs in fact.

Visitors Brandon used up one ball short of their full 55-over allocation in amassing 221-9, Eddie Watson their driving force with six fours and four sixes in an aggressive 63 scored from 61 balls.

Murtuza Hussain was the pick of the home attack with figures of 3-36 from his 14 overs.

Boldon’s reply just never got going as a spate of lbw decisions saw them slip to 80-6 at one stage. But Nick Sampson-Barnes held firm with an unbeaten half-century and, when the curtain finally came down after 27 overs, the home team were safe and sound on 123-6.

South Hetton were possibly glad of the heavy rain – as they had been bundled out for just 86 by visitors Felling.

Skipper Robbie Atherton was the one redeeming feature of the 34-over innings as he struck eight boundaries while top scoring with 38 made from 61 balls.

The bowling of Paul Leonard (5-29 from 13 overs), along with Chris Goudie (4-22 from nine overs) took centre stage as South Hetton crumbled from 58-1 to their all out total, losing their last nine wickets for 28 runs.

Felling had reached 24-2 in 11.3 overs when the weather intervened.

There was no play at all in the day’s other scheduled game at Sacriston, where Seaham Harbour were due to play.