Nervous end to championship chase

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13 September 2017 10:43PM

THE Division Two title race will go down to the final day after the top two secured vital victories by the narrowest of margins.

Second placed Stamfordham kept alive their championship hopes by a single run in a dramatic finish with third placed Mitford B, while leaders Belsay scraped past Corbridge Millers in the second last ball of the game.

Stamfordham had just nine men for their crunch game with a Mitford side whose title chances were ended the week before, and they managed to get their way to 123.

Guy Halbert, Benn Horncastle and Angus Patterson contributed early in the order, with Gary Rutherford and Graham Adamson weighing in with what proved vital runs later on.

Mitford were determined to keep it tight, with David Wigham claiming three wickets and Craig Mole and Michael Briggs two each.

Colin Crowe got Mitford off to a great start and formed a good third wicket stand with Jordan Mallaburn, with Neil Head-Rapson carrying on the good work.

But captain Adamson led by example and his five wickets had Mitford on the ropes, before Halbert stopped the opponents agonisingly short with the last of his four wickets.

It was a nervy finish for Belsay as they struggled to get past a determined Corbridge side, Richard Mills inspiring the table toppers to victory with an unbeaten stand.

Corbridge batted first and, after early wickets from Dan Tait and Chris Townson, passed 100 through half century maker Kiel Zurawlew and Ivan Jepson.

Runs were hard to come by in return but David Robson pushed Belsay on after steady knocks from captain Allan Johnson and Jack Fenwick.

The bowling of Khalid Mahmood had Belsay worried, but they edged their way past their goal to keep them on top going into the deciding weekend.

Hexham Leazes II's openers Tony Crosby and Matt Joyce were on fire as they guided their team to a thumping 10 wicket victory over Wark.

Their opponents did well to post close to 150, but the Leazes duo were striking the ball well as they shared 22 fours, with skipper Joyce also hitting a six to secure the victory within 28 overs.

Martyn Thorpe and Mick Turner batted well for Wark as the North Tyne side caused problems, with Rob Willis and Harry Fitton both taking two wickets for Hexham.

Humshaugh II reached 200 runs as they moved into the top half, defeating Allendale II.

While Owen Murtough was unfortunate to miss out on his 50, Andy Mullen passed it, and a good knock from Glen Tweddle moved the scoreboard on.

Allendale's bowlers finished well with Vermury and Ollie Scott in the wickets.

Humshaugh's attack, especially Michael Arnup, was in fine form to restrict Allendale's scoring, Andy Mason, Jerry Taylor and Howard Robson the only batsmen to reach double figures.

Stocksfield IV came close to victory against Mitford A, but were to be denied a second win of the campaign.

Their opening bowlers Dan Taylor and Luke Masters took three wickets each, but a half century from Mitford opener Chris Kirtley put the visitors in the driving seat. Dan Tuite improved the run rate with an unbeaten knock towards the end of the innings.

Hitting 10 boundaries, Steven Page put Stocksfield in with a chance of victory but he lacked any real partner with Andrew Newton and Michael Haywood the only teammates to make double figures.

Charlie Trotter starred for Mitford to secure the victory, securing six wickets at the expense of just nine runs.

It is no longer mathematically possible for Wylam II to move off the foot of the table after they conceded their fixture with Clara Vale II.

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