Houghton Dairy Lane are homing in on Earl Cup crown with victory over rivals

Whitburn Pairs winners, left to right: James McKinney, Whitburn President Ernie Naylor and John Thurlbeck.
Whitburn Pairs winners, left to right: James McKinney, Whitburn President Ernie Naylor and John Thurlbeck.

Houghton Dairy Lane took a massive step to securing their first Earl Cup title since 2009 after they inflicted a second defeat on holders Silksworth.

The 16-shot 6-1 victory, albeit over a hampered Silksworth outfit due to county competition commitments, puts Dairy Lane in the box seat as they have a two-point lead and a game in hand over Silksworth.

Despite a 6-1 home defeat at the hands of Roker Marine, the point was enough to lift Houghton Town out of the bottom two as they leapfrogged Thompson Park, who suffered a 5-2 loss at Barnes Park.

In Division Two, Barnes West End notched a fifth consecutive win (5-2) at South Hylton to open up a 10-point lead at the top from Hetton Workmen’s.

Whitburn’s 6-1 win at Washington moved them 12 points clear in Division Three.

The defeat for Washington enabled Roker Park to leapfrog them into second place after a 7-0 win over Ryhope.

In the Swan Cup, Silksworth’s 7-0 win at South Hylton opened up a two-point lead over holders Dairy Lane, although the latter have two games in hand and are still unbeaten after nine games.

The battle to avoid the drop saw basement club North Biddick defeat second bottom Thompson Park 4-3, with the result moving Thompson Park out of the bottom two. Seaham Town lost 6-1 to Barnes West End.

In Division Two, only six points cover the top four, leaders Hetton Workmen defeated Ryhope 5-2, while second placed Washington defeated Pemberton 5-2, third placed Roker Park defeated Hylton Colliery 5-2.

The Harold Howey was thrown wide open last week when leaders Thompson Park B lost their unbeaten record when they were beaten 4-0 at home by South Hylton.

Last season’s runners-up Barnes West End are only a couple of points behind, with a game in hand.

In Division Two, Washington B still have a healthy lead over Houghton Town A, the latter beat Roker Marine B to close the gap to nine points.

The Storey Bowl holders Hetton Workmen’s tightened their grip on the title with a 6-1 win over Dawdon. Hetton now have a 16½ point lead over Seaham Town.

The semi-finals of the 3-2-1 Triples take place on Tuesday at Thompson Park (6.30pm): Houghton Town v Roker Marine, Barnes West End/Roker Park v Ryhope/Usworth.

Sunderland Council will reveal their master plan on Tuesday as they hold talks with clubs over the future cut backs to green maintenance.

Whitburn held its annual Open Pairs last weekend, and in the final, Dairy Lane’s Jimmy McKinney and John Thurlbeck defeated Silksworth’s Jaxon McKenna and Ian Riches 10-7.

The decisive moment came on the ninth of the tenth end when Thurlbeck collected a four to lead 10-4. The win was a repeat of the 2013 success for the Dairy Lane duo.

It was make or break for Durham’s Middleton Cup hopes last weekend.

Going into the final round of group games, Durham needed to beat Cumbria and then hope Derbyshire beat group leaders Lancashire. Sadly, things didn’t go the plan.

In the game against Cumbria on a tricky John Whitehead Park playing surface, Durham were always playing catch up.

At the halfway mark, Cumbria led by 32 shots and despite a spirited fight back whereby Durham got back to within eight shots, it was not to be as Cumbria held on for a seven shot 17-5 win.

Cumbria also needed a Derbyshire win, but that never materialised as Lancashire ran out 16-6 winners to book a quarter-final battle of the roses against Yorkshire.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Durham though as team manager David Bolt defeated Stephen Farish 14-11 which stretches Bolt’s unbeaten Middleton run to four years and 10 games.

Darlington RA’s Andrew Kirtland came from behind to beat Ian Gallagher 24-19, while club-mate John Fielding snatched a hard fought 21-21 draw against Stuart Airey.

Scores (Durham skips first): P.Mosley 19 B.Sherwin 21, G.Skipp 13 S.Irwin 19, A.Kirtland 24 I.Gallagher 19, J.Fielding 21 S.Airey 21, J.Mansfield 17 R.Chandler 24, D.Bolt 14 S.Farish 11

Final Group Standings: Lancashire 48, Cumbria 43, Durham 27, Derbyshire 14. Middleton Cup Quarter final draw: Lancashire v Yorkshire, Kent v Surrey, Bedfordshire v Leicestershire, Devon v Warwickshire.

The final John’s Trophy group fixture between Durham ladies and Yorkshire ladies as expected wasn’t played as Lincolnshire had already secured top spot leaving it a meaningless fixture.

Final Group Standings: Lincolnshire 40, Yorkshire 2, Durham 2. John’s Trophy Quarter final draw: Sussex v Kent, Cambridgeshire v Hertfordshire, Cumbria v Lincolnshire, Somerset v Worcestershire

This season’s County competitions have reached crunch time as the semi-finals are played this week with the winners booking a final spot at the National Championships at Leamington Spa in August.

In the singles, an all Silksworth county final is still a possibility, David Bolt secured a semi-final spot with a 21-13 win over Leadgate’s Gary Robson, while Scot Baker won the all-Silksworth quarter-final tie against Neil Reid 21-9.

However, Colin Jefferson’s run came to an end with a 21-14 loss to Stockton’s Joe Ballentyne.

The Pairs quarter-finals see Silksworth’s David Bolt face Dipton’s Michael English and Dairy Lanes John Thurlbeck was due to face Roker Marine’s Richie Mckie.

Local hopes in the Triples are with Dairy Lane’s David Armstrong after a 16-12 win over Hartlepool’s Ian Jackson.

That win set up a semi-final against Elm Tree’s Colin Boston, who ended Silksworth’s David Bolt’s hopes 19-13 at Blackhall.

In the Fours, Silksworth’s Billy Ferry cemented a semi-final spot with a 22-14 win over Hartlepool’s Alan Taylor, but there was disappointment for Seaham Town’s Brian Henderson, who went down 21-19 to Dipton’s Michael English.

Marine’s Richie Mckie also went down 19-18 to Dunston’s Malcolm Johnston.

In the Junior Singles, Silksworth’s Jaxon McKenna will be flying the flag in the semi-finals as he takes on Stockton’s M.Hodgson, while Barnes West End’s Brian Sanderson faces Lyndhurst’s P.Hudspith in the George Turley Champion of Champions semi-final, although there is no national finals place, if he were to win.

This week’s semi-final line-up at Houghton Dairy Lane (Monday 6.30pm): Singles: M.English (Dipton) v S.Baker (Silksworth). Triples: D.Stoker (South Moor) v D.Oram (Hartlepool Park). Fours: M.Johnston (Dunston) v P.Mosley (Stockton). Under-25 Singles: J.McKenna (Silksworth) v M.Hodgson (Stockton). Champion of Champions: B.Sanderson (Barnes West End) v P.Hudspith (Lyndhurst).

This week’s semi-final line-up at John Whitehead Park (6.30pm): Singles: J.Ballentyne (Stockton) v D.Bolt (Silksworth). Triples: C.Boston (Elm Tree) v D.Armstrong (Houghton Dairy Lane). Fours: W.Ferry (Silksworth) v M.English (Dipton). Two Bowl Singles: Johnston (Dunston) v J.McKenna (Silksworth).