LANCASHIRE had to pull out all the stops to beat Durham in their opening Daily Telegraph Northern Counties League match at Heysham, writes DAVID BIRTILL.
They lost the foursomes 4-2 and despite storming back by winning the top four singles the issue was in the balance until Reece Cranfield, on his debut, dispatched Andrew McCarrick 3&2 in the final tie to secure a 10-8 victory.
England international Paul Kinnear and John Carroll gave Durham, who finished bottom of the league last year without a point, an encouraging start to the foursomes by succumbing on the home green to Richard Asbitt and James Glenn.
Lancashire halved the next two matches then Joe Brice and Jack Shelley appeared to put them in the ascendancy after eclipsing Jason McGuire & Jamie Birkbeck 4&2 but Durham comfortably won the last two pairings.
Remarkably, all three fixtures finished 10-8, Cheshire overcoming Northumberland at Close House and defending champions Yorkshire battling back from a 4-2 foursomes deficit to beat Cumbria at Eden.
FOURSOMES: Paul Kinnear (Formby) & John Carroll (Huyton & Prescot) lost to Richard Aisbitt (Brancepeth Castle) & James Glenn (Brancepeth Castle) 1h; Ian Kenwright (Haydock Park) & Richie Blundell (Hillside) halved with Stuart Brown (Castle Eden) & Chris Handy (South Moor); Ciaran Doherty (Bury) & Sean Doherty (Rossendale) halved with John Kennedy (Consett) & Martin McCririck (South Shields); Joe Brice (Manchester) & Jack Shelley (Formby) bt Jason McGuire (Heworth) & Jamie Birkbeck (Bishop Auckland) 4&2; Paul McFerran (Warrington) & James Rooney (West Lancs) lost to Gavin Nesbit (Boldon) & Andrew McCarrick(Boldon) 3&2; Curtis Clarkin (Nelson) & Reece Cranfield (Wigan) lost to Sam Robinson (Tyneside) & James Wilson (Tyneside) 7&6.
SINGLES: Kinnear bt Aisbitt 3&2; Kenwright bt Glenn 1h; Blundell bt Handy 7&6; Carroll bt Nesbit 6&4; C Doherty lost to McCririck 3&2; Brice lost toBirkbeck 1h; Rooney bt McGuire 5&4; Shelley halved with Brown; Clarkin lost to Kennedy 1h; S Doherty halved with Robinson; McFerran bt Wilson 3&1;Cranfield bt McCarrick 3&1.