HOUGHTON Chilton Lodge avoided the drop in Division One with a stunning victory in their final game of the season.
Lodge needed to beat bottom club High Handenhold Bird Inn to climb above Ushaw Moor Cricket Club and reach safety, albeit only on goal difference.
And they showed no nerves in sealing the deal, with a strong, all-round team performance putting Bird to the sword in a 5-0 win.
Dan Thompson, Lee Wright, man of the match Adam Hinde, Andrew Macpherson and sub David Firth all got in on the act as Lodge recorded only their sixth league win, sending the cricketers down.
Keeper Tony Swift won the plaudits for Bird in keeping the score down.
Washington Cross Keys and Pelaw Grange Dogs drew 1-1, leaving the visitors in fourth place while Keys could yet climb above them.
After a pretty uneventful match, the game exploded into life with two goals in the final five minutes. Cross Keys took the lead on 85 minutes when a through ball found its way to Young, who flicked it past keeper Sean Hall.
Dogs levelled two minutes later, though, as David Jeffers swung in a free-kick that wasn’t dealt with and John Robinson volleyed home from 10 yards.
Keys climbed to fifth with a 3-1 defeat of Sacriston Cricket Club on Thursday, with two-goal Ross Docherty and star man Liam Young netting.
Champions Hetton Lyons CC maintained their unbeaten record with a 17th win in 19 Premier Division games, triumphing 3-0 at Pelton RAOB.
Conor Winter and two-goal Robbie Bird did the damage, with Max Stoker man of the match. Daniel Addison stood out for Buffs.
Newton Aycliffe WMC guaranteed the runners-up spot by beating Sacriston Cricket Club 2-0.
Sacriston had much of the play but just could not take their chances and Aycliffe made them pay, netting twice late on, through subs Warren Byrne and Jordan Steele.
East Rainton ended their season in second-bottom spot but with a victory, only their second in the league, 3-1 at bottom club Coxhoe WMC, while Sherburn Village WMC scrapped for a goalless draw at Sedgefield St Edmund’s.
In midweek, Brandon Sports Club reclaimed third place thanks to a 3-2 win at Newton Aycliffe WMC. Lewis Wing and Shaun Ryder struck for Aycliffe, but Karl Turner, star man John Kidd and Jonathan Ord steered Brandon home.
Pelton RAOB cruised to a 4-0 victory over Houghton Comrades to keep up their push for a top-three finish, with the goals spread around by Craig Mickle, Paul Weatherburn, Michael Graver and star man Kevin Dixon.
Whitehills, runners-up to neighbours Waldridge Park in Division Two, ended their league campaign on a winning note, beating Houghton Wild Boar All-Stars 2-0.
Star man Jamie Taylor and Chris Burr grabbed the goals, with Stephen Parkin the hosts’ stand-out performer.
In the Third Division, champions Pelton Crown showed no mercy to an understrength Kelloe Davy Lamp side in a 12-0 rout as they moved 10 points clear of Washington Cricket Club.
Four-goal Liam Mitchell led the way, backed by John Morris’s hat-trick. Steven Ions, Scott Simpson, Mark Foster, Dean Stewart and sub Ryan Warnaby also struck.
Michael Hoyle starred for Crown, with Michael Soppitt best for the visitors.
Ferryhill Celtic kept up their push for the second promotion place, hammering Esh Winning Cricket Club 13-1.
Luke Thompson and Andrew Agar both plundered four-goal hauls for rampant Celtic, backed by Shane Todd’s treble and efforts from sub Brett Maughan and Liam Taylor. Dean Taylor bagged Esh’s consolation.
Celtic also routed Lumley 8-1 on Thursday, with doubles from Luke Thompson and Liam Pearson leading the way. Jason White, Andrew Agar, Liam Taylor and Nathan Lawson also struck.
Newton Hall Jovial Monk have endured a tough season in Division Four, but they relished a 5-1 thumping of Witton Gilbert Travellers Rest in their penultimate match.
Man of the match Matty Williamson’s double inspired Monk, with Chris King, David Wile and Mark Emmerson also on target. Star man David Lumley notched Travellers’ consolation.
A last-day win for Lumley Snooker Club will clinch third place.
Lumley, away to fifth-place Quarrington Hill WMC, were in control for most of the first half, hitting the bar after 20 minutes and getting a big help when the home side had a man sent off just before the break.
Quarrington took control on the restart, despite the man disadvantage, but they could not find a breakthrough and a fluffed clearance led to Lumley going ahead.
Lumley broke quickly to add a killer second goal, sealing a 2-0 win.
Washington Jays pipped High Shincliffe Avenue 1-0, thanks to a Wes Moat strike, with Michael Alcock man of the match.