CRICKET: Spalding will need favours to take title

Destroyed: Spalding's Charlie Kearns smashes the stumps of Moulton Harrox dangerman Jack Barnett on Saturday. He went on to claim stunning figures of 6-15.'Photo (TIM WILSON): SG040812-118TW (to order call 01775 765433)
Destroyed: Spalding's Charlie Kearns smashes the stumps of Moulton Harrox dangerman Jack Barnett on Saturday. He went on to claim stunning figures of 6-15.'Photo (TIM WILSON): SG040812-118TW (to order call 01775 765433)
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Moulton Harrox 1st (51) lost to Spalding Town 1st (54-1) by nine wickets: TOWN stormed back to winning ways in style on Saturday as they hammered South Lincs and Border League rivals Harrox by nine wickets.

After the disappointment of the previous weekend’s beating at the hands of title rivals Stamford, Spalding delivered the kind of showing that has made them promotion candidates this year.

Skipper Rob Ambrose has already let his side know that they require maximum points from their remaining games to maintain their chances of winning the title – and they had no trouble collecting the spoils at Spalding Grammar School.

With black clouds surrounding the ground as the two captains tossed the coin at the start, the derby duel was reduced to 35 overs to give them more of a chance of getting a result.

After winning the toss, Ambrose had no hesitation in putting Harrox into bat and his bowlers certainly backed up his decision, with a devastating opening spell from Charlie Kearns (6-15) and Jamie Juckes (3-19).

The pair bowled with pace and control to put the visitors in all sorts of trouble and blew away the Harrox top five in no time, before the teams had to take for cover after a very sharp rain storm.

As the rain cleared and the teams took to the field again Spalding knew that they had to attack to get the game over as quickly as possible.

The rest had helped the opening bowlers, so Kearns and Juckes were able to continue where they had left off and really put Moulton to the sword.

Ansar Hussain mopped up the last Harrox wicket to leave them all out for 51 in 20 overs, with only Mark Woodall (14) managing double figures.

After a quick turnaround Tim Norris and Ansar Hussain strode out to open the batting for Town – with the rain clouds looming.

The pair rode their luck and smashed it to all parts as they clubbed a 50-run partnership in short time. Norris (9) was caught with only two runs needed, but Hussain (34 not out from 25 balls) finished the game off two balls later with a hefty blow over mid off.

The quick-fire victory not only earns Spalding local bragging rights, but keeps them in the title race.

However, Ambrose reckons his side will need Stamford and Billingborough to both slip-up if they are to be crowned champions.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the way the lads came back after last week,we have got to be at our best for the rest of the season.

“We want to finish as high as we can, but I think the title will come down to the other two losing a game – and I just can’t see it happening.

“Charlie Kearns put in a man-of-the-match performance, but I was really pleased for Jamie Juckes, he was unplayable at times.

“Jamie hasn’t bowled as much as previous seasons, but he really showed his worth with a great spell.

“With the return of Mike Kearns Jnr from America, we are at full strength for the run-in, so we will keep giving it a go and see.”

Spalding’s title hopes could well come down to their away clash with Billingborough on August 25. Boro, who visit Moulton Harrox on Saturday, currently lead Town by seven points. Town are at Bourne 2nd, while Stamford welcome Lindum Ramblers (all 1.30pm).

Division Two

Spalding 2nd (130-8) v Stamford 2nd (57-5) – match abandoned

TITLE-CHASING Spalding looked set to claim another victory on Saturday – before heavy rain forced the sides to leave the field and declare the game tied.

With rain in the air, the captains agreed to reduce the overs 40 per side.

After losing the toss, Town were asked to bat first – but some loose bowling early on allowed the Spalding openers to get off to a steady start.

The introduction of Chris Birch (3-12) soon changed things, though. Pressure from Birch caused Lee Eyett to play a rash shot to Dytham (1-8) and lose his middle stump for 10 runs, before Mick East followed in the next over for 12.

This left Jon East and Jim Clarke to rebuild the innings – an that’s what they did, taking the score on to 42-2 at drinks.

However, a dubious LBW decision saw East (13) depart, before Clarke (14) was caught while trying to push on.

Tom Dale, in typically brutal fashion, was next in and he took apart anything short or wide, top scoring with 40 in a crucial partnership with Dav Naghen.

A rain break was taken with the score on 108-4 from 34 overs, bit it seemed to damage down’s hopes and they eventually closed on 130-8.

Believing that the total may not be enough, Spalding went in search of early wickets.

Things went to plan as Steve Norris (1-13) took a wicket with his third ball. But with pressure only being built up from one end, Stamford kept the score board ticking.

Ollie Saville (2-19) and Clarke (2-9) tightened up the game, but as the pressure started to build with Stamford struggling on 57-5 after 22 overs, the umpires decided the rain was too heavy and ended the game.

Spalding captain Tom Dale said: “Today’s result was a bit disappointing. After battling back to post a reasonable score and with Jim and Ollie bowling so well, we were in a position to get nearly full points and keep the pressure on top spot.

“Welby did take full points from their game, so the pressure is on us to beat them twice at the end of the season.

“I am proud of what the lads have done over the last few weeks – there have been some great personal performances as well as a great team effort.”

Spalding, who trail leaders Welby by ten points having played two more games, host Boston 2nd at the Memorial Field on Saturday (1.30pm).

Division Three

Lincoln Lindum 3rd (67-5) v Spalding 3rd - match abandoned

RAIN saw table-topping Town’s progress halted after 23 overs on Saturday.

They had Lindum on the ropes at 67-5 before the game was abandoned due to the weather.

Spalding won the toss and took wickets steadily throughout, with Kev Nottingham picking up three victims.