John Coxon steers Cestrians to victory with an unbeaten 47

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CHESTER-LE-STREET kept their noses well out in front in the Dukes NEPL league, in a low-key encounter at the Lane.

But the real joy of the day was for South Shields, who picked up a crucial victory on Teesside to lift themselves off the bottom.

Durham Academy struggled through 38 overs of torture against Chester, being held to a score of 126-8 in a game suffering a late start as the ground dried out.

With Ian Hunter (4-29) and Quentin Hughes (3-27) on form it took a late unbeaten 38 from Cole Pearce to give the Academy some respectability.

The Cestrians didn’t have it all their own when they responded, but John Coxon continued his excellent run of form with six fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 47 that took the champions to a seven-wicket win which gave them another 20 points.

But that reduced points haul from the shortened game allowed Blaydon to nudge their way back into the fray with a maximum return against Hetton Lyons after Mark Stoneman stood head and shoulders above the rest with a brilliant 130, including 14 fours and five sixes.

This superb display gave Blaydon the confidence to declare at the 60-over mark with 245-8 on the board, a move that reaped rich rewards when they squeezed the Lyons out for 176 with just 13 balls of the match remaining.

Gary Stewart bagged five wickets and Chris Varley three as Shaun Birbeck (40 from 103 balls) tried to defy them.

South Shields pulled off their first victory of the season at long last – and it was enough to lift them off the foot of the table as they leapfrogged beaten opponents Stockton and moved 23 points above Gateshead Fell, who were mauled by Tynemouth.

Shields batted carefully for almost 59 overs, amassing 205, Oliver Stedman their top scorer with five fours in a half century.

However, home skipper Kevin Ward gave his team hope with a good-looking 60, which included 10 fours and a six and with brother Jimmy making 33 and Danny Phinn 32, Stockton were always in with a shout.

But it was the bowling of Andrew Elliott which provided the real turning point as he picked up 5-42 in 12.2 overs to bowl Stockton to a 16-run defeat.

Former Sunderland “pro” Rameez Shahzad came good for Tynemouth, hitting 89 and then bagging four wickets as The Fell were swamped by 172 runs.

A total of 41 from Ben Debnam and 47 from Matthew Brown helped Shahzad take Tynemouth to an imposing 263-7 and then David Hymers (4-25) and Phil Morse (2-23) joined Shahzad in routing their hosts for 91, defeat setting the relegation alarm bells ringing at Eastwood Gardens.

Sunderland looked as though they could topple South North on their own patch at one time, the Bulls bowled out for 158 as Ashley Thorpe and Kieran Waterson shared six cheap wickets.

But spin-meister Lee Crozier had other ideas and his spell of 6-25 sent the Wearsiders tumbling to a 36-run defeat.