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Title joy for Stockton
The bubbly was out at Blaydon, and it was Stockton who were gladly paying as they became champions of the NEPL Premier Division for the first time in their history.
Keaton Jennings (4-23) had Blaydon on the retreat from the off, the hosts slumping to 10-4, but a hard earned 41 from Graeme Bridge helped lift his side before Umar Shafiq (3-22) finished the innings off to leave the home team all out for 121.
The Teessiders then had their own problems, slipping to 2-2 and then 47-4 as Danny Evans (4-27) struck early blows. It was at that point two Stockton lads came together to clinch things, skipper Kevin Ward (58no) partnering brother Jimmy (21) in a 60 run fifth wicket partnership that effectively ended the contest, and a five wicket win following soon afterwards for the jubilant visitors.
NYSD title chasers Darlington suffered a body blow to their hopes when Marton earned a hard fought two wicket victory at Feethams, and with Richmondshire easily defeating a depleted Normanby Hall the end result was that the Dalesmen increased their lead over the Quakers to 16 points.
Darlington were restricted to 159-8 in their 50 overs, this despite a half century from James Dobson, and Marton eased their way to victory with just five balls of the game remaining. Meanwhile, Richmondshire earned a comfortable win over a depleted Normanby Hall to retain their leadership.
The Dalesmen were made to earn their runs as they laboured through 49 overs to score 180-4, Mike Layfield the key man with an unbeaten 85 scored from 132 balls. Hall were then unable to resist the twin menace of Craig Marshall (5-25) and Shani Dissanayake (5-15) who spun their side to another victory inside 26 overs.
It was a very similar match at Sedgefield (142-6) where the home side gained a welcome win over bottom club Thornaby to provide some clear blue water between themselves and the bottom two. Nisal Randika was the all-round star with 47 runs and 3-12, while Martin Cull took 4-18 as the visitors were bowled out for 60.
Esh Winning returned to the top of the Durham Cricket League even though they could only draw with Dawdon. Esh took 15 points from a match where their hosts were hanging on at 180-9 chasing 224, but Burnmoor got the worst of a stalemate with Kimblesworth and the 8 points they took from the game means they are now two points behind Esh with just two games to go.