Norfolk Cricket Alliance: Premier title race heating up
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The battle for the Premier Division title appears to heading for a thrilling climax after Fakenham piled the pressure on leaders Downham at the weekend.
While the long-time front-runners were being held to a draw Fakenham were cruising to a comfortable win that closed the gap at the top to just 12 points with three matches left to play.
Keegan Monahan-Fairlie's side made no mistake against Old Buckenham, romping home by seven wickets after dismissing their hosts for a paltry 129. Luke Findlay led them home with an unbeaten 58 while Will Dunger did most of the damage with the ball, taking 4-41.
It was a very different story for Downham who never looked like losing their fixture at Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers after making 206 (Patrick Yates 70 not out) – but were unable to take the 10 wickets they needed, with Wanderers finishing on 130-7.
At the other end of the table Sprowston's recent run of improved form came to an abrupt halt in an early finish at the Norton Warnes Ground. They were skittled out for 92 by Cromer, with Michael Warnes taking 6-37, and the hosts duly consolidated third spot by completing an eight-wicket victory.
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Sprowston are now just two points off the bottom, a position held by Lowestoft who slumped to an eight-wicket defeat at the hands of Diss at the Denes Oval after being bowled out for 137, with Mark Williamson taking 5-27. North Runcton moved off the foot of the table courtesy of a 22-point haul against Swardeston A. They restricted the visitors to 208-7 and got home with seven wickets to spare (Rudolph Kieser 79 not out, Ben Coote 52).
It's as you were at the top of Division One with leaders Stow and second placed Brooke both picking up 23 points for hard-fought victories. Stow won by two wickets after Garboldisham had made 203-8 while Brooke had just one wicket in hand as they overhauled Topcroft's 269-6.
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There was a thrilling match at Great Melton, where visitors Beccles got home by just one run after making 175, while bottom side Bradfield deserve a big pat on the back after securing their second win on the trot. They beat Mattishall by 14 runs after being dismissed for 171, with Jez Wright posting figures of 5-31.
Bungay's relegation to Division Three was all but confirmed when they slumped to their eighth defeat of the season.
With just three matches left to play they are now 65 points adrift at the foot of the table after being bowled out for 109 and losing by five wickets to visitors Hethersett and Tas Valley.
It's very much game on at the other end of the table however, with just four points now separating leaders Great Witchingham A and Dereham.
The Witches slipped up against Norwich A, who sneaked home by one wicket after restricting their hosts to 194-8 (Matthew Hale 53 not out), and their nearest challengers took full advantage. They made a modest 188-8 against Bradenham, but it proved more than enough as they dismissed their neighbours for 140.
Division Three leaders Thetford suffered a rare off day as they lost by four wickets to Acle A after reaching just 99-9 – but they remain odds-on favourites for the title.
Old Buckenham A are now their closest challengers after making 152-8 (Ben Askew 51) against Dersingham and then dismissing them for 132.
One of the earliest finishes of the day came at Great Melton, where the A team proved far too strong for Sheringham. The Lobsters were skittled out for just 68, with Melton knocking the runs off for the loss of six wickets. Brooke A look secure at the top after making 202-4 (Phil Carver 63, Jon Block 54) in reply to Stow A's 200-8.
Old Catton clinched the Division Five title despite seeing latest opponents Hethersett and Tas Valley A cling on for a draw. The home side finished on 125-9 after Catton had made 205-9.
There was also a notable result at the other end of the table as bottom side Aldborough produced a dominant performance against Beccles A. They made 197-7 and cruised to victory as the home side went for just 75. Alex Youngman (66 not out) and Ashley Moakes (5-21) were the star men.