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Brandon keep up pressure on Esh
12:28am Monday 29th August 2011 in Durham County League
Torrential rain at the end of last week wiped out a significant amount of cricket in the North-East on Saturday, with many grounds unable to recover from the battering they took.
The whole of the NEPL, Durham Senior and NTSL programmes were washed away, with just three matches surviving in the remaining two leagues - but what an effect they had on the title races in those competitions.
Esh Winning started the day needing just one more victory to secure the Durham County League title, but they will have to wait until later today to see if they can wrap things up after their only challengers, Brandon, defied the elements to reduce the gap between themselves and the leaders to just seven points.
With Brandon having lost a formidable lead in the table earlier in the season, primarily due to bad luck with the weather, they were perhaps due a change of fortune, and they took full advantage of being involved in the only match to get a start when they walloped bottom club Shildon by seven wickets in a 25-overs-per-side contest.
Scott Nattrass shunted the Railwaymen aside in six superb overs, during which he bagged 5-20, and with Stephen Ball (2-9) and Sean Barker (2-4) providing great support, Shildon were shot out for just 69 in 22.3 overs. Ball then batted Shildon to defeat inside 15 overs, cracking eight fours in a rapid 44 as Brandon took the title race into the final round.
Reigning Durham Coast League champions Boldon CA barged their way to within three points of the leaders when they picked up a 25-point maximum in their home game against Peterlee at the same time as Seaham Park were struggling to keep their heads above water at home to Ryhope.
CA rattled up 201-1 in 37.5 overs and then declared, Dave Tate hitting a glorious 105 not out, a century that included 11 fours and four sixes.
Both Andy McCord (43no) and Carl Watson (36) added to the Tate gallery, sharing ten boundaries of their own as Boldon laid down the gauntlet.
Peterlee were then dumped out for just 86, David Batty (4-12) and Tommy Nixon (3-17) ripping through them.
Meanwhile, Seaham Park just held on for a draw in an attritional match against Ryhope, the visitors plodding to 130 in 40 overs, with Lee Gilbert carrying his bat for an unbeaten 55.
Ali Watson (5-23) and Stuart Pattison (3-19) had seemed to set up a stroll for the Park, but spirited Ryhope bowling, led by Micky Thorpe (3-30), meant a late backs-to-the-wall job was required as the leaders slipped from 117-7 to 117-9, skipper Mike McNicholas joining opener Dave Hanson (40no) to survive the final five balls and secure vital draw points that could well prove crucial.