Alnmouth nip in to take last promotion spot

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Alnmouth & Lesbury I were promoted on a dramatic final day of the season – snatching the last promotion place away from rivals Alnwick I in the process.

Going into Saturday’s deciding round of games, Alnwick were in the driving seat to go up, sitting second in Division A2 of the Northumberland & Tyneside Senior Cricket League.

But a four-wicket loss at champions Ashington, coupled by Alnmouth’s convincing victory at bottom club Morpeth, saw the Seasiders leapfrog Alnwick and grab the final promotion spot.

Benwell & Walbottle I were also in the hunt, but a draw against Cowgate firsts put paid to their ambitions.

For Alnmouth, the climb to Division A1 is the side’s second promotion in as many years, after winning the Northumberland Cricket League’s Premier Division in 2012.

They did it by the tightest of margins, finishing three points ahead of Alnwick in the promotion race. Chairman Andrew Hodgson hailed the team’s achievements.

He said: “Winning promotion in our first season in the league is special. It has been an outstanding season for the club, on and off the field, at junior and senior level.”

Alnmouth finished the job in style, defeating lowly Morpeth by seven wickets.

Morpeth won the toss and batted, but were all out for 142.

Alnmouth’s Nicholas Denton (4-33) led the charge. Ben Oliver (2-26), Paul Straker (2-25) and Andrew Hodgson (2-4) also struck.

Things started badly for Alnmouth in the run-chase, losing skipper Tom Vickers for a duck.

But unbeaten 50s from Callum Batey and Ian Pearson, coupled with a useful 22 from Straker, took Alnmouth over the victory line, finishing on 143-3.

The promotion party would follow, after news that Alnwick had lost and Benwell had drawn.

Ashington put Alnwick in to bat and they were all out for 130. Michael Threlfall (24) and Robert Green (26) added some resistance.

Alnwick’s Gareth Bateman (2-33), Andrew Scott (2-32), Jonathon Roxburgh (1-14) and David Wright (1-26) grabbed wickets, but it proved in vain.

Ashington’s Daniel Grant (36) top-scored as his side won with 131-6.

It left Alnwick wondering what could – and perhaps should – have been. The weekend before, they lost to Morpeth when victory would have sealed promotion.

Captain Rob Woods said: “We are disappointed, but it has still been a good season.

“We have been at the wrong end of the table over recent years, but this year we finished third, reached a cup final and a semi-final. We will look to next year and try to win promotion.”