Ashmanhaugh continue assault on title chasers
- Credit: Archant
For the second successive week, Gareth Hopkins turned the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division table on its head to further raise hopes that Ashmanhaugh & Barton Wanderers will be able to mark their centenary with a Houdini-act.
Wanderers looked as good as relegated before claiming only their second win in their 15th game on August 10. Even then, with their last three games of the season against the three title contenders there appeared no hope of them avoiding bottom place, let alone relegation.
But last week they began that daunting run in by beating Norwich, thanks to 143 from former New Zealand international Hopkins.
And on Saturday they gave exactly the same treatment to Norwich's title rivals Sprowston, Hopkins this time smashing 155 from 134 balls, with 27 boundaries, as Wanderers won by 38 runs – despite another century from Sprowston's overseas star Matt Foster.
That lifted them off the foot of the table at the expense of Stow, who finished their campaign with a defeat to North Runcton – who now lead Wanderers by seven points in the race to avoid the second relegation spot.
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On Saturday, Wanderers complete their programme against second-placed Downham, who as a result of the efforts of the strugglers over the past fortnight now trail Norwich by five points with Sprowston a further nine points adrift.
To cap it all the last day fixture list has Norwich hosting Sprowston at Postwick – with both clubs still harbouring EAPL aspirations.
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Norwich took advantage of Sprowston's defeat by leapfrogging Downham – who didn't have a game – by winning by two wickets at Cromer. But it was a close run thing after Chris Carey made 64 in the home side's 186-9 before Olly Higenbottam (62) and Chris Borrett (56) just got Norwich over the line.
Sprowston's defeat came in a 575-run feast which saw Hopkins put on 170 for the second wicket with Craig Beedon, who scored 79 from 77 balls, as Wanderers made 307-4.
Foster did his best to chase down the big target with 113 from 114 balls, putting on 110 for the fifth wicket with Sam Hales (52), who added 45 in five overs with Tim Hales (29) to leave Sprowston needing 32 from the last four overs for a 90pc losing draw. When Sam Hales was the ninth wicket to go 12 were needed off eight balls, but in the final over, with nine needed, Wanderers took the decisive wicket.
Elsewhere in the top division, Chris Cooper claimed four wickets as Diss beat Fakenham by six wickets.