Five-star Johnson sparks Whitburn

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WHITBURN continue to forge on at the top of the Dukes North East Premier League First Division table, but South Hetton are gathering a head of steam and Sacriston are also in with a shout after their second victory of the summer.

At the moment, there’s just no stopping Whitburn.

The unbeaten leaders brushed aside Eppleton on Saturday to make it five wins from eight matches and they continue to enjoy a 32-point lead over the chasing pack.

Eppleton collapsed to 111 all out in 35 overs, only Callum Jefferson, with six fours and a six in his top-scoring 37, getting to grips with an attack in which Neil Johnson showed his value with a five-wicket haul.

Johnson, just back from injury, took his wickets in a deadly 11.4-over burst. Edward McCormack, Liam Mallaburn and Craig Scurr were the only other batsmen to reach double figures.

Whitburn then eased to an eight-wicket win as Ross Carty gave them the perfect start to the run chase with eight fours and a six in his half-century, sharing an opening partnership of 96 with Neil Ayre, who saw the job through with an unbeaten 40, the table-toppers winning inside 28 overs.

South Hetton’s latest success came by an emphatic 143 runs at Boldon, where the home team were shot out for just 88 when giving chase to a target of 231-9.

West Indian Nelon Pascal took four wickets for the hosts, but they came at a price as the South Hetton batters took 80 runs from his 14 overs, Gary Burlinson the main man with 61. Liam Irving made 33, Tony Murphy 27 and John Leslie 26.

Boldon then had no answer to the in-form Leslie, who took five wickets for 32 runs in 15 outstanding overs. With Murtuza Hussain adding five more wickets to his burgeoning aggregate, the visitors wrapped things up impressively.

The victory earned South Hetton 25 points, moving them into second place as the former occupants of that slot, Brandon, crashed to a surprise home defeat at the hands of Washington.

A Lee Rushworth century proved to be Brandon’s undoing. He made 106 from 159 balls and included 16 fours and two sixes in a knock that lifted his side to an impressive 55-over total of 238-7.

Karl Turner took three wickets in that innings, and then added 48 at the top of the Brandon order, but once he was out the rest folded dramatically, and from 75-0 all 10 wickets went down for another 100 as Jordan Matthews claimed four of them.

Such was Brandon’s fall from grace, they actually dropped to fourth after Sacriston also leapfrogged them with a six-wicket win over Seaham Harbour.

Swaru Purkayastha’s 86 lifted Harbour to a 52-over total of 193-8, but Ryan Moralee’s four wickets for just 30 runs kept the lid on proceedings. Mo Ali then masterminded the successful run chase with a 127-ball unbeaten 96, Tony Claughan adding a brisk 65 to sink Harbour in 46.1 overs.

Felling (149-7) managed to eke out a draw at Willington (215-8), the nine points gained lifting them off the foot of the table, that pleasure now falling to the Harbour, who picked up just five in their defeat.