EPPLETON’S season just keeps getting better and better, two wins in two days lifting spirits further, and they now sit in third position in the Dukes North East Premier League First Division table after the most dramatic of victories on Saturday.
Friday night’s defeat of Premier Division opponents Blaydon in the Co-operative Funeralcare T20 was just the appetiser to the following day’s main course in which they toppled one of the favourites for promotion, Washington.
But it was oh so close in the end as it took a last-wicket stand to secure a dramatic one-wicket success.
Eppleton looked in total control after bowling the visitors out for just 85 in 37.5 overs, the main plaudits going to Zaheer Shahbaz (3-22 in 11 overs) and Craig Scurr (3-10 in 10.5 overs), Two wickets apiece for Rizwan Ullah and David Wilkinson completed the almost perfect afternoon in the field for the Church Road team.
And all seemed well on course for a regulation victory as Kyle Davis (27) eased his team up to 28 without loss, only for the roof to cave in as eight wickets crashed for the addition of just 14 more runs.
When 42-8 became 56-9, Eppleton looked down and out.
But, under extreme pressure, Shahbaz (18no) and Wilkinson (7no) negotiated their way past the Washington total in a gutsy match-winning stand of 32 to give the ecstatic home side the win and lift them above their beaten opponents in the table.
Boldon were another team springing a surprise.
The Sunderland Road outfit demolished another of the fancied teams, Brandon, skittling them for 54 and then rattling off the paltry target inside 11 overs.
Brandon were in immediate trouble on 9-4, and then staged a small recovery to 45-4 before their last six wickets crashed for just nine runs.
The four-pronged Boldon attack all enjoyed success, Murtuza Hussain, Nick Sampson-Barnes and Laurence Wood picking up two wickets apiece, and Joe Coyne wrapping things up with 3-10.
Coyne then cracked four fours and two sixes to reach 40 not out as he rushed his side to a seven-wicket win that lifted them up to fourth in the table. Shell-shocked Brandon’s misery was made worse when ex-Durham bowler Ruel Brathwaite broke down after just one ball of his opening spell.
With damp wickets and humid conditions, it was certainly proving to be a day for bowlers.
Seaham Harbour would have much preferred to bowl first if they had won the toss instead of spending 36 overs limping to 82 all out against an effective Sacriston attack.
Graham Hubber (5-27 from 15 overs) and Mo Ali (3-10 from six overs) made full use of the conditions before Martin Hubber (43 not out from 55 balls) eased his side to a seve-wicket win in only 14 overs.
Aussie Tim David enjoyed two wonderful days at the weekend, following up a T20 century on Friday night with another brilliant display on Saturday.
He hit 11 boundaries in his 88 which lifted South Shields to a 50-over total of 214-4 declared against Willington, and then the in-form Chris Stewart (6-56), along with Andrew Elliott (3-59), combined to bowl out the home team for 131.
Victory ensured Shields stayed well clear in the early-season table.
South Hetton (171-6) had to settle for a lesser share of the spoils in a drawn game at Felling (173 all out) after just failing to get past their hosts’ total.
Talab Ramzan was the star turn, his four wickets being followed by 79 runs, but when he was out the South Hetton innings lost momentum and a victory chance was spurned.