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Bubbly Barnard Castle go top

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Bubbly Barnard Castle, the only side to start the opening two games of the new season, sit proudly at the top of the Darlington Building Society ECB North Yorkshire and South Durham Premier League to reinforce just how far they have come since winning promotion just a year ago.

And their example could be an inspiration to newly installed Sedgefield, whose first-ever premier game saw them more than hold their own and, in fact, come tantalisingly close to an historic first win.

On a day when play in four of the seven senior games was wiped out by waterlogged grounds following a further dose of heavy mid-week rain, Sedgefield were happy their outfield had survived the downpours for their match with Thornaby to go ahead.

Nevertheless boundaries were hard to come by and there weren’t too many in the 50-over innings of the visitors who finished on 137 for eight.

Sedgefield’s opening bowlers hit hard to put Thornaby in trouble on 18 for three, but two useful stands featuring Omar Shahid, who made 40, took them past the hundred mark and when he was seventh out his side had reached a more respectable 122.

Jonathan Clark took two wickets in conceding 23 runs from eight overs, but Sedgefield’s wily professional, Mohammed Zahid, made the most of the turning wicket to grab four of his own for just 37 runs in 17 overs.

The host club then saw newcomer Dave Cross go without a run being scored but a fine recovery led by professional, Steve Naylor (48) and another debutant, Richard Hawthorne (28) turned the tables.

Luke Metcalfe, playing against the club he helped get promoted last September, struck three times to leave Sedgefield ten runs short of the winning target with two wickets remaining.

After reaching 64 in 25 overs thanks to the partnership of Naylor and Hawthorne, they lost seven wickets in doubling the score in the last 25. They got as close as needing 34 to win from the last 30 balls.

Meanwhile, Metcalfe couldn’t quite swing the match Thornaby’s way despite bowling tightly in 17 overs for his three wickets.

Barnard Castle’s league topping triumph came with a 25-run win over Stokesley who lost their last five wickets in a sensational spell of pace bowling by Richard Borrowdale.

He took seven wickets for just 36 runs in a lethal 13 overs with Stokesley collapsing badly. Yet they looked capable, at one stage, of beating Barney after restricting them to 160-6 in their 50 overs.

It looked even more likely when newly installed skipper Andrew Weighell hit a majestic 77 runs with ten fours and two sixes. He faced 112 balls and looked likely to become the season’s first century maker.

But things went pear shaped when he found himself unable to stop a collapse in which his side lost their last five wickets, including his, for just 13 runs. James Finch, the Barney professional, was also impressive with six maidens in 15 overs in which he took two wickets and conceded just 22 runs.

The other game to survive saw Marske skittled out for just 85 runs and beaten by Darlington, but not before the Seasiders had staged a remarkable fight back. Jon Barnes, the Quakers’ new professional, took five wickets on debut and at times was almost unplayable.

Marske lost their first two wickets for just six runs, including that of South African Dominic Hendricks. The collapse followed as eight wickets went down for 60 with Barnes rolling down nine maidens in 17 overs and conceding just 17 runs.

Gary Lynch and Richie Evans, who each scored 24, couldn’t stay around long enough to inspire a recovery especially as Peter Armstrong (3-30 from 15 overs with four maidens) was looking hungry,too.

Marske hit back strongly when Darlington came to the crease and must have thought an unlikely victory was possible when they grabbed six wickets in even more sensational style as their visitors struggled to reach 34.

But Simon Lee, who hit an unbeaten 49 from 60 balls with eight boundaries, pulled the game out of the fire. He and Martin Lower, who faced 35 balls and made just seven runs, starred in a 52 run unbroken partnership which turned the game on its head.

Quakers won by four wickets despite Josh Carroll returning figures of 4-28 from 15 overs.