Norfolk endure more quarter-final misery in the Knockout Trophy

Matt Plater scored a brave 31 for Norfolk before losing his wicket. Picture: Tim Ferley

Matt Plater scored a brave 31 for Norfolk before losing his wicket. Picture: Tim Ferley - Credit: Archant

Norfolk suffered more MCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy heartbreak at the hands of Staffordshire at Longton yesterday - with the elements once again having a say.

Having been eliminated by the same opposition in a bowl-out last summer, after heavy rain ruled out any play, Norfolk were asked to bat first in the quarter-final re-match on a weather affected pitch. It proved to be a bad toss to lose for skipper Ashley Watson, with his side being dismissed for just 119 and the hosts going on to overhaul their modest target in just 20 overs, albeit for the loss of five wickets.

Although the match went ahead on schedule after a downpour the previous day, Norfolk knew they would be in for a tough task as they walked out to bat. Jordan Taylor and Ben France successfully negotiated the first 10 overs, carefully taking the score up to 25, but once the latter went for 13 it was downhill all the way for the visitors.

His fellow opener was soon back in the pavilion for 12, and with James Hale, Rob Taylor, Jason Reynolds and Watson all failing it was left to new boy Matt Plater to bring a degree of respectability to the proceedings.

The Vauxhall Mallards player made a brave 31 in 57 balls, with five fours, but with wickets continuing to tumble at the other end it needed a last wicket stand of 24 spanning 11 overs between Adam Todd and Sam Groves to at least get Norfolk into three figures.

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Staffordshire's bowlers all turned in excellent shifts for their side in helpful conditions, with Tim Maxfield leading the way with figures of 8.3-4-18-4.

Norfolk's response with the ball was a spirited one, with Taylor bowling both Staffordshire openers for a combined total of 12, but a stand of 40 between Maxfield and Liam Banks then settled the home nerves.

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When Maxfield and new batsman Peter Wilshaw went in quick succession there was still some hope for Watson's men but another decent partnership of 47 between Banks, who top scored with 28, and Alex Mellor ended any arguments.

Norfolk must now switch their focus back to the Minor Counties Championship, with their next game against Buckinghamshire at Burnham starting on Sunday.

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