CRICKET: Town in two-horse race for title – Ambrose

Buoyant: Rob Ambrose
Buoyant: Rob Ambrose
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Spalding Town (203-5) beat Skegness 2nd (126) by 77 runs: SPALDING skipper Rob Ambrose reckons only Stamford can deny Town top spot and promotion to the Lincs ECB Premier League after seeing his side bounce back from their first defeat of the season in style on Saturday.

Josh Newton’s awesome 86 guided Spalding to 203-5, before a five-wicket haul from the ever-impressive Charlie Kearns helped dismiss a decent Skegness line-up for 126 in South Lincs and Border League Division One.

With defending champions Billingborough – who handed Spalding their only loss of the campaign a week earlier – seeing their game rained off, Ambrose thinks the race for Division One honours is now between his charges and second-placed Stamford.

Town currently head the table by five points, with Boro some 29 points back.

“It was important to get the win after last week, we played some really good cricket,” said Ambrose, who made 42 himself. “It’s great to have players like Josh and Charlie in the side.

“They make it a bit easier for me and are both quality players – but it’s important that the rest of us perform too.

“I think its going to be between us and Stamford for the title. They are going really well at the moment.

“It’s a shame that Billingborough keep getting rained off, otherwise they might be challenging too. Although, the way they celebrated beating us last week you would have thought they had won the league. We just need to keep going for the 20 points every week.”

After winning the toss and deciding to bat first, Town didn’t get off to the best of starts as they lost Matt Hendry (3) in the second over. But that brought Newton to the crease alongside Ambrose – and the pair looked in good touch. They set about putting Town in a strong position with a mixture of cultured stroke play and brutal hitting.

Ambrose (42) eventually went for one shot too many and Kearns (2) was run out soon after, leaving Spalding’s hopes of a big score in the balance.

The experienced Steve O’Dare bowled a very good spell for Skegness to slow the run rate down too. But with Newton passing 50 for the second time in three games and Simon Juckes also in good nick, Town set about trying to reach 200 and the valuable maximum batting points.

And sure enough, Juckes (38no) and Ansar Hussain (6no) got Spalding to 203-5 at tea.

Skegness’ hopes of reaching the target were hampered by a Kearns spell that was simply the best seen at Town for a long time. With the wind at his back, Kearns bowled with pace and accuracy to clean up the top four.

With weather looking increasingly like hampering Town’s chances of going for the 20 points, Ambrose decided he needed to get through overs quickly – so Hussain (3-37) and Jimmy Clarke (2-32) were thrown the ball. After a nervy start they shone, getting overs in quickly and taking wickets to boot.

Spalding’s fielding was top draw too, with Luke Whitworth and Newton both holding on to stunning catches.

With rain on the horizon Kearns (5-26) returned to clean up the tail and secure maximum points for his side.