Tynemouth are becoming the surprise package in this season’s NEPL as they find themselves top of the pile after a third straight victory.
On Saturday the win came at Ropery Lane, home of former champions Chester-le-Street.
On a cool but bright day, Cestrians skipper John Coxon won the toss and elected to bat on what looked like a good wicket for runs.
However, openers Harrison and Thompson struggled early on against the pace and bustle of Finn Lonnberg and the steady line and length of David Hymers.
In an excellent first spell of bowling Lonnberg dismissed Thompson, mistiming an attempted hook, and danger-man Andrew Smith in consecutive balls, this time lbw.
The Seasiders were off to a great start with the Cestrians reduced to 4-2.
This brought the experienced Richard Waite to the crease and he counter-attacked with some success, reaching 39 before Martin Pollard took a fine diving catch at mid-on off the bowling of Tynemouth’s Andrew Smith.
Smith also accounted for opener Harrison for 19 and Randhara for 18 in a spell that left the home team struggling again at 88-5.
Quenton Hughes and skipper John Coxon then put together a partnership of 79. However, it was cautious in the extreme against the accurate bowling of club professional Tahir Khan, who eventually and deservedly claimed the wicket of Hughes, lbw for 50 with the score on 167-6.
Coxon continued to fight hard for his team and ended with 58 not out, but Smith and Pollard bowled well at the death and the Chester score of 214 all out looked vulnerable on such a good track.
Smith with 5-52, Pollard 2-41, Lonnberg 2-43 and Tahir Khan 1-38 (off 20 overs) were the Tynemouth wicket takers.
Andrew Bell and Liam Simpson took the new ball for the reply and there was an early alarm when opener Nick Armstrong was dropped off the first ball he received from Bell.
This was a mistake that would cost Chester dear.
Bell did have Tynemouth skipper Ben Debnam adjudged lbw for nine and momentarily home hopes were raised.
However, that wicket brought Tynemouth’s Durham and Ireland player Stuart Poynter to the crease and, together with Armstrong, the pairing put on a match-winning partnership of 165.
Poynter was all class, effortless and yet rock solid in defence and all punch and venom in attack.
His chanceless innings of 90 was only ended when he misjudged a ball from Richard Waite and was bowled attempting a cheeky late cut.
Armstrong at the other end gave a couple of chances but once settled in played with real determination and high skill, especially when hitting the ball through the off-side.
He finished with 92 not out as Tynemouth reached their target with overs to spare and eight wickets in hand for a famous and richly deserved win.
Hughes was the pick of the home attack but finished without a wicket.
On Saturday high flying Newcastle arrive at Preston Avenue for an 11.30am start in what promises to be an exciting top of the table contest. Supporters new and old are welcome.
The second team were home to Chester-le-Street who asked their hosts to bat first.
Andrew Davison opened with a useful 24, scored mainly in a partnership of 34 with Andrew Lineham (39 not out) batting at four.
However, no other batsman made more than twp apart from eight from Sam Robson as wickets tumbled to Ollie Barrett (4-21), Metcalfe and Robson, with Tynemouth all out for 90 in 29 overs.
Chester lost two early wickets to Sam Robson 2-22 off eight overs but Haswell hit 30 and the Nairns finished the job as Adam scored 43 not out and Iain 11 not out.
It was an early finish with seven wickets in hand by only the 22nd over and plenty of time to lend support to the third team who were playing on the second square.
The thirds hosted Clara Vale, who elected to bat first.
Phil Morse and Neil Bennett opened the attack for Tynemouth and Morse made instant in-roads with 3-6 off his first six overs while Bennett recorded 0-16 off five lively overs.
It took the change bowling of Ed Snelders to dismiss dogged opener veteran Bobby Vedhara for 13, well caught by Dave Mahan.
Snelders had no more joy but with only six runs off five overs he was effective.
Morse completed with 3-7 off seven overs, and at the 21 overs mark, Clara were only 46-4 but progressing, if painfully slowly.
Nick McIntyre continued the pressure as skipper Lee Reed spread his attack, but the introduction of Don Catley then removed the middle order with three wickets in his first two overs.
Only Shaw with 13 batting at nine offered any further resistance as McIntyre 1-13 off six, Adam Williams 1-7 off two overs and Catley 4-11 off 4.4 overs cleaned up the innings.
The final Clara score was just 71 with only 48 runs coming off the bat.
The Tynemouth reply saw Jon Malton unlucky to drag one on, bowled for four, and then McIntyre was bowled for a duck, but opener Dave Mahan batted sensibly to score a useful 21 supported well by 18 from Chris Grieveson.
Morse (10 not out) and Reed (12 not out) saw Tynemouth comfortably home by six wickets to claim maximum points and their second win.
The refurbished Tynemouth pavilion has now doubled up as a refuge for the players and a superb venue which may be hired for private functions.
The bar manager is Dominic Holland and can be contacted on 07462 981898, and a specific email has now been set up for bookings – firstname.lastname@example.org