Monkseaton CC 1st XI gave their promotion hopes a timely lift with a crucial four-wicket victory over rivals Ashington Rugby on Saturday.
Having lost at fellow promotion hopefuls Alnmouth & Lesbury on the previous weekend, skipper Mark Tunstall’s men went into the game knowing a win was vital.
And a superb innings of 69 by club president Bob Zanetti ultimately proved decisive as Monkseaton prevailed in a hard-fought encounter at Churchill Playing Fields, ensuring that a three-way tussle for the last promotion spot in Northumberland & Tyneside Cricket League Division Six (North) will go right to the wire.
Having won the toss and put Ashington Rugby into bat, Tunstall’s faith in his bowling attack was rewarded with an excellent display in the field that restricted the visitors to 121-6 after 40 overs.
Once again, John Hewett bowled with great economy, conceding just 14 runs from his nine overs. There were also impressive spells from David Gowar (1-24) and his brother James, who bowled superbly in the final overs to record 3-12.
In reply, Zanetti helped pace Monkseaton’s reply to perfection. stroking nine boundaries on his way to 69. There was good support from Tony Lion (26) and although both men were dismissed with the victory target in sight, they had both done enough to earn the hosts a much-needed win, which came with more than three overs to spare.
With league leaders Kirkley already promoted, the battle for the final promotion spot is proving fascinating. Despite picking up 26 points on the day, Monkseaton actually slipped to fourth in the table, where they sit with 342 points, behind Alnmouth & Lesbury (345) and Ashington Rugby (350).
Perhaps crucially, however, Monkseaton have a game in hand on both of their rivals. Equally, the two other sides must still face each other before the season ends, so Tunstall’s side know their destiny is very much in their own hands.
They next travel to Stobswood Welfare (1pm start).
The 2nd XI were unable to halt table-topping Cramlington’s title push in NTCL Division Six (South).
Batting first, Monkseaton could only manage 89-8 from 40 overs, a total that owed much to skipper Garry Benns’ gritty knock of 45.
The hosts knocked off the runs in the 19th over for the loss of three wickets.