Chad’s century helps Fakenham clinch Alliance Premier Division title
- Credit: Ian Burt
Fakenham clinched the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division title with a game to spare at the weekend as Chad Bowes put together another brilliant innings to see off Old Buckenham.
The visitors performed well to post a formidable total of 243-3 on a glorious afternoon, but the leaders got home with five wickets to spare to secure a 21-point haul, with their talented South African making an unbeaten 131.
To have any chance of staying in the hunt second-placed Sprowston needed an emphatic win in their fixture at Diss, but they came up well short. The hosts restricted their high-flying opponents to 189-8 on a pitch that became easier as the afternoon progressed, with Andy Hanby making 64. Simon Cooper then led the way with 109 as Diss coasted home for the loss of just two batsmen to ensure the celebrations could begin at Fakenham.
At the other end of the table Ashmanaugh and Barton Wanderers are down after an emphatic defeat at Downham, while Stow and Swardeston A both won to ensure the battle to avoid the other relegation position would go to the final day.
Wanderers' total of 194 never looked enough, with Town going on to win by seven wickets, while Stow got the victory they needed as they comfortably saw off Cromer after restricting their visitors to 192-9.
The west Norfolk side remain 13 points behind Swardeston A, however, after their rivals bowled out Brooke for 161 (Jason Reynolds 4-20) before getting home by four wickets.
Garboldisham's top-two finish in Division One was confirmed despite a comprehensive defeat at the hands of an in-form Acle side. The leaders were skittled out for 167 before going down by seven wickets.
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North Runcton are in pole position to claim the title after battling to a three-wicket success against Horsford A, who were dismissed for just 152. They are now just 12 points adrift of Garboldisham with a game in hand.
Whether one or two go up in all the divisions will depend on Fakenham's progress in the EAPL play-offs – and whether either Horsford or Norwich are relegated.
Beccles may be down but they showed the spirit is still there as they edged to a 15-run over neighbours Topcroft (Mike Fisher 5-25) after being restricted to 131-9. As a result Topcroft now look favourites to accompany them into Division Two.
Thetford cruised to victory in Division Two's match of the day to move up to second in the table.
They bowled rivals Hethersett and Tas Valley out for just 96 before strolling to victory for the loss of just one wicket and will now take a 12-point advantage over them into the final weekend.
Leaders Norwich A, who had a day off, have a 20-point advantage over the third-placed side.
Bungay turned in a excellent display to bowl Division Three high-flyers Vauxhall Mallards A out for just 122 before going on to win by three wickets.
Brooke A are now eight points clear at the top after piling up 243-4 against Downham A, with Will Minchin scoring 97 not out and Matt Carver 72, and then bowling out their visitors for 131.
Swaffham and Hardingham kept their outside hopes of promotion alive by securing victories, with Brendan Scott scoring 115 for the latter.
Division Four champions Winterton slipped to a second straight defeat as Tom Bart's 122 helped Rocklands to 239-6 while Sheringham won by 10 wickets after Old Catton were skittled out for 88 (James Moy 6-19).
Martham are 22 points clear of third place in Division Five with just one match to play following a comfortable six-wicket win over Beccles A, who were all out for 137.
Below them Ashmanaugh and Barton Wanderers A and Hethersett and Tas Valley A maintained their promotion bids with emphatic triumphs.
Meanwhile, a fascinating battle to avoid the drop will go to the final day, with just five points separating the bottom four teams.
Division Six champions Bircham went marching on as they beat Horsford B by seven wickets after bowling them out for 118. Will Pillinger shone with the bat, finishing unbeaten on 64.