An opening partnership of 171 between skipper Ben Debnam and centurion Nick Armstrong helped set Tynemouth up for an emphatic eight-wicket win over Stockton at Preston Avenue on Saturday.
The day began with Debnam once again winning the toss but this time deciding to insert the opposition on a pitch that looked green but played well all day.
The previous week, opening bowlers Andrew Smith and Finn Lonnberg had ripped into the Newcastle early order with some outstanding bowling. However, in this game with Stockton, neither hit their straps and veteran Alan Worthy got his side off to a flying start with a rapid 25 in an opening partnership of 37 in just seven overs.
Tynemouth needed a ‘plan B’ and David Hymers was introduced early, and he immediately removed Worthy and added some much needed control from the Rugby stand end.
The precocious Joe Hewison gifted a catch to Smith off Lonnberg and then Hymers bowled Stevenson to see the Teessiders 56-3.
However, runs continued to flow and away skipper Kevin Ward was in aggressive mode.
He was joined by former Durham player Ryan Buckley and these two began building a decent partnership.
Both players were keen to attack, especially on the front foot, and, despite Debnam making changes to both bowlers and the field, runs continued to flow until Buckley was bowled by Hymers with the score on 123.
In the very next over, and just on lunch, Martin Pollard had key man Ward caught in the deep by Lonnberg for a well-made 54.
Thus from dominating most of the first session, Stockton went in at a disappointing 135-5 and it was the home team who were best enjoying their lunch.
After the break, Jamie Harrison and Joel Thwaites batted steadily, but the introduction of replacement professional Taufeeq Umar brought a wicket from his first ball as Harrison picked out Lonnberg on the leg side boundary.
From then on the Tynemouth bowlers were in control with Stockton closing on 203-9. Hymers was the pick of the home attack with 3-59 off his 16 overs.
Hopes in the home dressing room were high that this score was not enough and, with Stockton having a depleted bowling attack and missing three regulars, so it proved to be.
Nothing should be taken away, however, from a fine opening partnership of 171 between skipper Debnam and ‘Mr Consistency’, Armstrong.
After a disappointing first half of the season, Debnam has found good form recently and looked solid in defence and aggressive in attack once again. His leg side play was impressive and his 68 was a fine effort.
Armstrong, at the other end, stood tall and upright, defending with a straight bat yet minimum movement and then hitting the ball with power and great timing through the offside.
This was an elegant display. He was on 93 when Debnam was out and this brought former Pakistan Test player Taufeeq to the crease, who just five minutes later in a special moment, was congratulating Armstrong on a well-made century.
Shortly afterwards Armstrong was out and he received warm applause on returning to the pavilion.
All it required was for Taufeeq and Matty Brown to hit the last few runs to secure a comfortable victory by eight wickets for the home side and keep their top four dreams very much alive.
The second team have made good progress in three cup competitions. They still await confirmation of semi-final opponents in both the James Bell and Roseworth Trophy.
They will play Chester–le-Street in the final of the Banks Bowl, away on Bank Holiday Monday, August 29.
On Saturday, away to Stockton, Tynemouth elected to bat first and scored 280-6 declared off 42 overs. Niall Piper hit a fabulous 115, supported with 81 from Ben Richardson.
However, this target was reached in 55 overs with six wickets to spare by Stockton as Joe Hewison hit an outstanding 176 not out to take the game away from Tynemouth.
Highlight for Tynemouth’s bowling was 3-58 off ten overs from Andrew Davison.
The third team made the short journey to Whitley Bay but were dogged by a shortage of regulars.
Neil Bennett lost the toss and Tynemouth were asked to bat. Two quick wickets went down and Tynemouth’s hopes were firmly with Carl Salvidge who batted on, muzzled at first but accelerating later to reach 57 before finally falling lbw.
There was an encouraging performance from youngster Ivan Gilpin with 16, in a stand of 66 for the fifth wicket with Salvidge, and a typical flurry from Bennett with 13 including an immediate six and four.
However, Tynemouth were dismissed in the 36th over for 129, helped by 31 extras including 17 wides. Patel took 4-6 off seven overs.
The Whitley Bay reply saw first teamer Mark Harris score 30, mainly using his strength in driving on the offside.
The opening bowlers Ed Snelders and Bennett started well enough but Bay were in no mood to prolong this game.
Snelders with the final ball of his spell benefited from a smart stumping by Finn Hodgson to record 1-25 off eight overs. Don Catley then had Harris trapped lbw with the first ball of his second over but this brought the powerful Patel to the crease and the rest of that over went beyond the boundary with Catley reduced to 1-31 off only two overs.
Bowling changes saw Ben Chater record 0-9 off four overs, Tom Stoetzel 1-13 off four and Salvidge 1-6 off 3.2, with a catch behind for Hodgson.
Bennett returned to take a final wicket and record 1-30 off five overs but Bay won comfortably by five wickets in the 27th over.
With the scores level the ball from Salvidge avoided Hodgson and hit the grounded helmet to score five and finally decide the outcome.
Upcoming fixtures - Saturday, August 20: 1sts v Hetton Lyons, away, 11am, NEPL Premier Division; 2nds v Hetton Lyons, home, 12.30pm, NEPL Div 2; 3rds v Bomarsund 2nds, away, 1.30pm, NCL Div 2.