Burnmoor keep their nerve to maintain title chase

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BURNMOOR made a move on Warmseal Durham Senior leaders Castle Eden by scraping a precious victory at Horden yesterday.

Saturday’s entire programme was rained off, and Castle Eden were left marooned by a waterlogged ground which ruled out the visit of lowly South Hetton yesterday.

But Felling cut the front-runners’ advantage to 25 points, while Burnmoor also closed on Castle Eden.

Moor’s game at Horden appeared to be in the bag at the interval, after they bowled their hosts out for 117 in 44.3 overs. Ian Conn led the attack with a 15-over stint in which he took 3-28 and, with Owen Lancaster picking up 3-10 at the close of the innings, the visitors looked well on top.

But the loss of four early wickets soon changed that outlook and it took a fifth-wicket stand between Lancaster (two fours and a six in 37) and Paul Davidson (three fours and a six in 31) to get them back on track.

Even then there was one last twist as Masood Mirza (5-44) kept the pressure on. The fall of late wickets left South African Brandon Scullard (24no) needing to hold his nerve as Burnmoor squeezed home with just two wickets to spare.

Felling clipped 15 points off Castle Eden’s advantage with an excellent win at Boldon.

Boldon were indebted to an unbeaten half-century from Andrew Doherty as Paul Leonard (3-24 in 15 overs) and Ant Trotter (3-29 in 15 overs) pinned the hosts down for long spells.

Boldon were eventually bowled out for 152 in 54 overs and, when Danny Clark (42) and Chris Goudie (50) shared an opening stand of 90, the game looked done and dusted.

But a steady drip of wickets put Felling on the back foot. When four wickets went down for just one run on 145, it took a steady nerve for the ninth-wicket pair to get Felling over the winning line with two wickets to spare. Phil Shakespeare gave Felling the wobbles with 5-44 in 11.5 overs.

Whitburn leapt into the top half of the table with an emphatic six-wicket victory at Marsden, who were shot out for just 54 in 24.2 overs.

Neil Johnson and Craig Smith shared all 10 wickets as they bowled unchanged, only Ryan Dowens (17) looking likely to halt the slide. The next top score was six and but for 17 extras the final total would have been even worse. Johnson ended with 5-26, while Smith’s final analysis was an impressive 5-19.

An opening stand of 24 between Stuart Walker (14) and Neil Ayre (19) set Whitburn on their way to victory, and even though three wickets fell for three runs with the score in the early forties it was too little too late for Marsden as the visitors eased home in 16.3 overs.

Stephen Neilson was the one Marsden player to achieve some measure of satisfaction as he picked up 3-11 in an effective seven-over spell.

Durham City’s match with Eppleton, and Norton’s clash with Kimblesworth were victims in another truncated day’s play. Saturday’s abandoned games have been rearranged for Sunday, August 19.

For the cricket statisticians, Saturday was actually a day for the record books as, with 152 abandonments throughout the whole of North East club cricket, the season’s tally increased to an incredible 1,650 to make 2012 officially the worst ever.