Norfolk Alliance round-up: Downham Town closing in on Norfolk Alliance Premier Division title

Great Witchingham bowler Andy Hanby heads back to his mark during
Saturday's EAPL match at Swardest

Great Witchingham bowler Andy Hanby heads back to his mark during Saturday's EAPL match at Swardeston. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The champagne is on ice for Downham Town - but they can't afford to start celebrating just yet.

Town are 44 points clear at the top of the Premier of the Norfolk Alliance with just two matches left to play following an impressive five-wicket win over Brooke, the side they look likely to replace as champions.

With only 50 points available it would normally be all over bar the shouting, but the leaders' next game is away to nearest challengers North Runcton, who know an emphatic derby win would at least take the title race to the final day.

Downham restricted their visitors to 191-9 on Saturday, with Rob Panter making 59, before knocking off the runs required with a degree of comfort thanks to Ian Harrison's 63 and an unbeaten 46 from skipper Patrick Yates.

Cromer's outside hopes of finishing top were extinguished when they were surprisingly beaten at home by Garboldisham, who moved out of the relegation zone as a result.

There were half centuries for Jonny Leech (58) and Tom Davey (52 not out) as the visitors got home in the 48th over for the loss of six wickets chasing a modest total of 205-8.

Cromer's defeat saw an in-form Runcton side move up to second courtesy of an emphatic home win over relegation threatened Horsford A.

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The home hero was Mark Skipper who made an unbeaten 115 to help his side to an eight-wicket win after Horsford had made a more than useful 238-6.

Division One leaders Diss suffered what could prove to be a costly 120-run home defeat at the hands of a Stow outfit who turned on the style to maintain their late promotion charge.

Will Denny made a superb 127 and Keith Thompson 65 to help the visitors post a formidable total of 279-6 and it proved far too much for Diss, despite a half century from Rob Tooke.

Diss remain top - but they have played one more game than the three other sides in the promotion hunt and with a blank Saturday coming up could find themselves as low as fourth this time next week. Dereham and Swardeston A both maintained their challenges with comfortable wins against Mattishall and Vauxhall Mallards A respectively, with Duncan Hewitt scoring 105 for Dereham.

Finn Grist led the way as Martham got the win they required to confirm promotion to Division Two of the Norfolk Alliance.

The opener smashed 14 fours and two sixes in a knock of 110 that helped the hosts up to a daunting 292-6 against relegation doomed North Runcton A.

Peter Coote (50) and Tim Coote (48) both did their best for the 10-man visitors but it was in a losing cause, with their side being dismissed for 136 as everyone except wicket-keeper Joe Oakey had a bowl.

A trio of West Norfolk sides also confirmed promotions that have been on the cards for some time now.

In Division Five Snettisham and Hockwold both did what was required, and in emphatic fashion too, as outclassed opponents were put to the sword.

Leaders Snettisham beat Bradenham A by eight wickets after restricting them to 159-9 (Ryan Twiddy 60) while Hockwold got all the way up to 278-6 before skittling Norwich B out for just 81. Euan Gilmour followed up a knock of 60 with the impressive figures of 4-19 while Roy Bland made 84.

Meanwhile Denver beat a nine-strong Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers A side by 58 runs to ensure they will be going up with Horsford B in Division Six.

Useful knocks down the order from Chris Rolfe (59 not out) and Daniel Clifton (49) helped the visitors reach 230-8 in their 45 overs, with their under-strength opponents finishing on 176-5 in reply (Theo Burne 76 not out).

Up in Division Two an exciting three-way battle for the two promotion spots continued as Beccles, Topcroft and Hethersett and Tas Valley all won.

Stuart Watkins took 4-27 as Beccles romped to victory at Brooke A after dismissing their hosts for just 91 while Topcroft remain two points above them after being involved in another early finish.

Greg Rostron's 4-12 helped dismiss Downham A for 107, with the runs needed being knocked off inside 23 overs for the loss of four wickets.

Hethersett are a further 20 points in arrears after winning a low scoring game at Swaffham by four wickets when chasing 117 (John Curtis 3-8, Robbie Matthews 3-23).

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