With the second half of the Sunderland and District League season under way, the divisions are starting to take shape with familiar names emerging as title contenders.
In Division One, reigning champions Thompson Insurance A, who have led from the beginning of the season, continue to set the pace.
However, the champions found themselves in unfamiliar territory when they trailed 3-0 in their match against St Chad’s, before finally coming out on top with a narrow 6-4 victory to maintain their unbeaten record.
Excellent wins by Keith Weatherby and Steve Penman over Thompson’s Darren McVittie were the stand-out results.
The defeats were McVittie’s first league defeats in three seasons, an excellent effort by both Saints’ players.
Penman and Weatherby also recorded wins over Thompson’s Marc Cotton, but lost out 11-7 in the fifth and deciding end of the all-important doubles set when Cotton partnered Andrew Wilkinson.
Wilkinson, undefeated this season, found himself 2-1 down against Weatherby before storming back to win the final two ends 11-7 and 11-1 to win the set 3-2.
With Wilkinson winning his two remaining matches, Cotton and McVittie took their final singles sets as Thompson secured a hard-fought 6-4 victory to maintain a six -point cushion over the Saints, and they still have two games in hand.
Durham CA A have continued their excellent season and are in third place, two points behind St Chad’s, with a game in hand.
Sacriston Aces prop up the division, despite some excellent performances without any reward. Twelve defeats, with only five points to show for their efforts, are a harsh return for their performances.
Durham CA B are the new leaders of Division Two, having being strengthened by the excellent form of Brian Bateman.
Hot on their heels are Redby CA A and St Gabriel’s C, who are both battling strongly for promotion to the top flight.
St Gabriel’s B, Sacriston Bombers and Silksworth IM are lying comfortably in a mid-table position.
Redby CA B are joint bottom, having played six games fewer than West CA A who, on past form, are expected to pull away from their position at the bottom.
In Division Three, runaway leaders St John A remain on course for a swift return following relegation last term.
The Saints are undefeated this season, winning 12 and drawing one, dropping only four league points.
The fight for second place appears to be between West CA B or East Boldon Methodists.
However, Lanchester CC may yet put together a good run which may push them into a promotion tussle with the two teams immediately above them.
Sacriston Chargers and Sacriston Desperadoes continue to blood the younger players, who are already benefiting from the opportunity to gain valuable league experience and pitch themselves against established players.
The players are now regularly winning individual games and it should not be long before narrow defeats turn to excellent wins, enabling them to go from strength to strength.
H The date of the Sunderland & District Closed Tournament (held at the Sandhill Centre) has been brought forward a week and will now be played on Sunday, February 23 – to avoid c clash with Sunderland’s Wembley appearance against Manchester City in the League Cup Final.
H Entry forms have been forwarded to all team secretaries and must be completed and returned/forwarded to Dave Bissett by Wednesday.