Fakenham replace Downham as Norfolk Alliance leaders with one match left to play
- Credit: Archant
After playing catch-up for much of the season Fakenham picked the perfect time to move to the top of the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division table.
They recorded a comprehensive nine-wicket win at Diss while long-time leaders Downham were crashing to a heavy defeat at Stow to lead the way by eight points going into Saturday's final round of fixtures.
Fakenham will now be aiming to clinch the title by making it 11 wins on the trot when they entertain Brooke on the club's President's Day, while Downham need a home victory against Garboldisham - coupled with an away win at Highfield Lawn - to retain their title.
David Coyle's side travelled to Diss expecting a tough test against a side with five straight wins behind them but it never materialised as the hosts crumbled to 54 all out. Luke Caswell and Billy Buckingham led the way with four wickets apiece while Coyle chipped in with a couple and it was then plain sailing for the visitors as they cruised home in the 17th over for the loss of only one wicket.
Downham, who have struggled for consistency recently after looking odds on to retain their title a month ago, were skittled out for just 102 at Stow, with extras accounting for almost a third of their runs.
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Jamie Cook (3-26) and Finlay Wilcox (3-28) did most of the damage before opener Otto Esse oversaw an eight wicket win with an unbeaten 40.
At the opposite end of the table Cromer moved out of the bottom two - and condemned Old Buckenham to relegation - with a dominant display at the Norton Warnes Ground.
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Tom Davies scored 148, Richard Charlwood 74 not out and Rob Purton 31 not out in just 10 balls as the hosts made an impressive 323-4 in their 50 overs and the Bucks got nowhere near it, despite an opening partnership of 104 between Ben Shearing (80) and Matthew Bint (24). Once they went it was one-way traffic, with the visitors being dismissed for 148 (Frankie Sutton 5-55, Purton 4-23).
Dereham and Thetford both got the wins they required to confirm promotion from Division One.
Dereham were pushed all the way by third placed Topcroft before edging home by 13 runs after making 233-8 (Jonny Bidewell 80, George Pledger 4-28) while Thetford chased down Swardeston A's 236 for the loss of just three wickets (Liam Conroy 108 not out).
Brett Colclough led the way as Martham recorded a thumping win over Saham Toney to clinch promotion from Division Two.
Colclough hammered an excellent 129 in just 90 balls, with Jack Whatmough (74) and Alex Sayer (68) also making important contributions in a home total of 328-9.
That proved to be well out of reach of the relegation threatened visitors who were dismissed for 127 as Archie Smith took 5-20.
The defeat saw Saham Toney drop in the drop zone after Mattishall had recorded a long-overdue win at already relegated Great Melton. Good knocks from Nick Riches (52) and Zach Fisher (45) helped Mattishall to 186-9 in their 45 overs and although the hosts got close they didn't get close enough, finishing on 180-4 (George Bunn 53).
A fine knock of 91 from skipper Jasper Payne, who has been having a golden summer, guided champions Swaffham to another win. His knock was the mainstay of a solid 217-9 against Great Witchingham A, who ended up 12 runs short after an excellent 88 from James Hale.
Division Three leaders Garboldisham A suffered a five wicket defeat at the hands of Old Buckenham A after being bowled out for 148 - but the four points they picked up were enough to confirm they will be going up.
It's between Acle A and Bircham for the other promotion spot and Acle have a 10 point advantage going into the final weekend following a nailbiting six wicket win over Swardeston B. Lewis Gooderham scored an unbeaten 128 to help Swardeston up to a more than useful 252 but it was overhauled in the final over as Josh Wilson and Jordan Webster both finished with unbeaten half centuries.
Sheringham will join Hockwold in Division Three next season after confirming a top-two finish in emphatic style. They bowled out Sprowston A for 89 before completing a 10 wicket victory in the 11th over. Hockwold's Carl Smith claimed the remarkable figures of 8-7 as Rocklands were seen off by five wickets. Denver sealed second place in Division Five with a win at Horsford B. The hosts were dismissed for 152, with Dan Harper taking 5-28, before a third wicket stand of 120 between Dan Cornwell and Paul Morton effectively settled the issue.