Spalding 1st (159) lost to Stamford 1st (160-8) by two wickets: DEFLATED Spalding skipper Rob Ambrose admits his side are now outsiders in the South Lincs and Border League Division One title race after suffering a pivotal home loss to rivals Stamford.
Town’s title dreams were blown away in a tight Spalding Grammar School clash on Saturday. Andy Hulme was the match winner for the visitors with a superb knock of 85 to see his side to a very valuable 20 points.
Having also lost to leaders Billingborough, it’s the second time this season that Spalding have struggled in the big game against a top side – something that looks set to be their downfall.
Town were always up against it, despite winning a good toss. Ansar Hussain (59) and Charlie Kearns (23) guided them to a respectable 159, but with Hulme in devastating form at the top of the order, Stamford just got over the line.
The result leaves Spalding seven points behind in-form Billingborough and just eight clear of Stamford, who have played a game less.
Ambrose said: “We lost the game in the first ten overs of each innings with some poor cricket. That’s it really. Other than that I thought we played well.
“Charlie and Ansar put us back in the game. They batted really well after we had gone to pieces early on and the lads stuck at it in the field, even when the game was all but over – which was great to see.
“I think that’s our chance to win the league gone now. I said at the start of the season we could only afford to lose one or two games and we still have to go to Billingborough.
“The way they are playing at the moment I can’t see anyone but them winning it now. We will keep having a go though and there’s seven games left, so you never know.”
Spalding got off to a terrible start, losing Mike Kearns (1) in the second over to a very dubious LBW.
Josh Newton (5) was the next to go, chopping onto his stumps from one that kept low. Skipper Ambrose (17), who had kept the run rate ticking nicely, soon followed after going for one shot too many.
Tim Norris (4) and Henry Charlton (9) also fell in an absolutely mad opening ten overs, leaving Spalding toiling on 45-5.
That brought Charlie Kearns and Hussain to the crease, as they set about stabilising their team. Kearns anchored the partnership and Hussain played some lovely shots to really pull Town out of the mire with an 87-run partnership.
Once they went the wickets tumbled, leaving Town all out after 44 overs, Simon Lemm (4-35) cleaning up the tail.
Town didn’t make the start they were looking for with the ball, allowing Hulme and Chris Bore (17) to tee off in the early overs.
Bore was eventually out LBW to Simon Juckes with the score on 69, then a mix up allowed Norris to suprebly run out Lemm (1).
A few decent knocks from Stamford’s middle order took them within reach of their target, but when Hulme was snared by Hussain they wobbled a little.
However, the experience Steve Armstrong saw Stamford home – leaving them in a cracking position in the title race.
Moulton Harrox (263-6) beat Bourne 2nd (185) by 78 runs
JACK Barnett’s sublime century guided Moulton to an impressive Abbey Lawn victory.
Harrox skipper Christopher Beale had no hesitation in electing to bat first on a hard, pacey track after winning the toss.
His decision proved to be a good one, as openers Ian Smith (32) and Barnett (132 not out) got off to an absolutely blistering start, scoring 50 off the first five overs.
After an extremely positive start Barnett reined things in and manoeuvred the ball well with the aid of Karl Hibbert (29).
Beale (30) was next to join Barnett at the crease and began to up the run rate, playing some glorious shots before falling.
Barnett’s sublime innings of 132 showcased elegance and superlative stroke play and put the away side in a dominant position at tea with a team score of 263-8.
After the interval John Smith and Matt Barnett (1-20) had their tails up, knowing that their team had a highly competitive score on the board. Early wickets made the difficult chase harder than it already was. Bourne opener Archie Stroud offered some resistance, scoring a fine 62, but after he went wickets fell at regular intervals.
Bourne struggled to score off the spin of youngster Max Cusack (2-15) and veteran Johnny Barnett (2-32), but the home side never gave up the chase and a resilient ninth-wicket partnership between Matt Creaney and Dean Smith looked threatening at one stage.
However, the task proved too steep for Bourne, finally finishing on 185 all out.
The Moulton bowling attack performed well as a unit, with John Smith the pick of the bowling attack finishing with 3-45.
Blankney (142) lost to Spalding 2nd (143-8) by two wickets
TOWN’S title charge continued on Saturday as 14-year-old David Thomas inspired a vital win over Blankney.
After losing the toss relegation-threatened Blankney surprisingly chose to bat first.
Spalding took full advantage, as captain Chris Page (2-22) got the wicket of Ben Hargrave with only 13 on the board.
His opening partner Steve Norris bowled consistently and also picking up two early wickets.
With the score on 65-6 at drinks Spalding were on top, but with Simon Behan (47) still at the crease Blankney still had the firepower to push on.
Behan didn’t last too long after drinks though, as youngster Ollie Saville (2-32) continued his fine form by picking up the dangerman’s wicket LBW.
A few poor pieces of fielding and some lusty hitting from the tail end meant that Blankney posted a respectable, but gettable total of 142 from 43.3 overs.
With 46 overs to chase down the total Spalding sensed 20 points – but were very quickly brought back down to earth with a bang.
A destructive spell of seam bowling from Neil Gilbert (4-27) ripped out the top order and after 21 overs Town were up against it at 39-6.
However, teen ace David Thomas had other ideas. He arrived at the crease with a massive task of saving the game, but wasn’t fazed.
In partnership with Norris (19) Thomas added 39 before the former was caught at mid-wicket.
Undeterred, Thomas carried on batting with the tail, playing very disciplined shots. But with wickets falling the, remaining batsmen needed to form a partnership with him to see Spalding over the line.
When Saville joined Thomas at the crease the pair needed a potentially tricky 22 from 10 overs.
They made very light work of the target though, as ill-discipline from Blankney meant that Spalding cruised home with eight overs left.
Thomas finished the game 56 not out, his maiden half century for the second team.
Town are now just two points off leaders Welby, but they have played two games more.
They welcome Stamford 2nd, another side with slight championship aspirations, on Saturday (1.30pm).