NE Premier League: Condy, Ayre the star performers as Whitburn end Chester-le-Street’s unbeaten record

Chester-le-Street batsman Andrew Smith in action against Whitburn
Chester-le-Street batsman Andrew Smith in action against Whitburn
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Whitburn claimed one of their best victories of recent years to topple the previously unbeaten Chester-le-Street and move up to the heady heights of fifth place in the table.

And what a game it was with two dramatic batting collapses after a delayed start adding to the drama of a nerve tingling one-wicket win for the ecstatic hosts.

The overnight thunderstorms had saturated the ground to such an extent that the game could not begin until 2pm, two and a half hours after the scheduled start.

That being the case, it was no surprise when Whitburn asked Chester to bat after winning the toss in a game reduced to a maximum of 89 overs.

The Cestrians had the lion’s share of these, with 49 available to them, but, in the event, they only used up 36 of their allotment after being unceremoniously dumped out for 176.

There was no hint of the trouble that lay ahead as Cole Pearce (47) and Andrew Smith (42 from 31 balls) put on 67 for the second wicket, with Quentin Hughes (35) then joining Pearce to add 77 for the third wicket and lift Chester to 145-2.

A remarkable four-wicket burst from Ian Elliot suddenly reduced the visitors to 169-6, and then Aussie Scott Condy returned to the attack to devour a wag-less tail.

Condy ended with figures of 5-38 as Chester lost their last five wickets for just seven runs, their final eight going down for just 31.

With plenty of time available to them – 53 overs in all – Whitburn then got their heads down to try and grind out a result, opener Neil Ayre making 52 from 75 balls before a 63-run fourth wicket partnership between Lee Henderson (31) and Dan Woolston (35) lifted the home team to 139-3, just 38 runs from victory.

But then came the second major collapse of the day as five wickets fell for 12 runs, Hughes once again in the thick of the action with 5-46.

With Whitburn on 151-8, the pendulum had swung back in favour of the Cestrians, but No 10 Kieran Waterson (12) helped take the score to 167 before the ninth wicket fell.

Then Mark Elliott and Ian Elliot held their nerve to scramble over the line with just five balls of the thriller remaining.

This first defeat of the summer saw Chester surrender their leadership of the Premier Division as South North overcame Durham Academy by 27 runs, the last wicket claimed by the Bulls with just one over remaining. They now lead by three points.

At the opposite end of the table, there was huge relief for Hetton Lyons as their trip to Tynemouth ended in a two-wicket win which lifted them clear of the relegation zone, even though Gateshead Fell pulled off a remarkable two-run victory over Benwell Hill to dramatically improve their own chances of escaping the drop.

Lyons bowled Tynemouth out for 136, with two wickets apiece from Gary Scott, Rob Talbot and Josh Coughlin, but then only just scraped over the line after Finn Lonnberg (4-45) and Tahir Khan (3-37) caused them constant problems in the run chase.

Scott (36) and Lal Kumar (26 not out) were the key figures in putting the successful run chase together, helped by Coughlin (24) and Adam Shaw (19).

South Shields suffered an eight-wicket home defeat at the hands of Blaydon after being restricted to 128-9, Oliver Stedman (33) top-scoring, in their reduced allocation of 45 overs.

On a day when batting second was the preferred way for most, the visitors cruised to their much-needed win with plenty of time to spare, with Phillip Miller (47), Paul Underwood (42) and Ross Greenwell (31no) leading the way.