Norfolk made it through to the quarter-finals of the Unicorns Minor Counties Knock-out Trophy yesterday after recording a tense two-wicket victory over Hertfordshire at Harpenden.

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Chris Brown’s side restricted their hosts to 223-9 in 50 overs but then had more than a few scares before passing the target for the loss of eight wickets, with tail-ender Ashley Watson hitting the first ball of the final over for four to see his side home.

Brown, who knew Norfolk had to win the game to progress, guessed correctly at the toss and opted to bowl first and it wasn’t long before the visitors were in deep trouble at 24-4.

Michael Eccles did most of the damage with three wickets while Ben France also struck as the visitors took a firm early grip on proceedings.

Jamie Southgate (76) and Ben Frazer (54) then set about repairing the damage, with a fourth-wicket partnership of 92 putting the hosts right back in the game.

It wasn’t long before the pendulum swung back in Norfolk’s favour however, with Garry Park taking three quick wickets – including two in successive balls – to leave Hertfordshire on 122-7.

Fortunately for the home side Southgate was still there though and with George Scott (35) providing some excellent support Hertfordshire managed to get their total up to a respectable 223-9, with an unbroken last-wicket partnership of 21 helping their cause.

Norfolk’s reply got off to a steady start with James Spelman and Peter Lambert putting on 31 for the first wicket and Spelman and Ben France then adding 86 for the second, with France reaching 51 before being dismissed.

Park then went first ball and after that shock Spelman’s partners were dismissed at regular intervals, with Norfolk slipping to 206-7 when Spelman finally went for 84, his 135-ball, 174-minute knock including seven fours. Luke Caswell swiftly followed for a duck and Norfolk then needed 18 for victory off four-and-a-half overs with just two wickets in hand. But Watson and Brown kept their nerve with a unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 19.

Norfolk will be away to Devon in the quarter-finals on June 15.

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