Overseas stars making presence felt in Alliance

Swardeston v Norwich CricketAshley Watson for Norwich.

Swardeston v Norwich CricketAshley Watson for Norwich. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Fakenham fell just short of victory against Downham Town on Saturday – but remain on course to succeed them as Norfolk Alliance Premier Division champions.

Overseas star Chad Bowes was again in top form, making 97 as the leaders reached 272 for the loss of only four wickets.

Unfortunately for Fakenham their visitors also had an in-form professional in their ranks, with young New Zealander Nick Kelly holding the reply together with a brilliant 144 as Downham finished on 220-8 in reply.

An 18-point haul was enough to maintain a 33-point lead with just four games left to play as closest challengers Sprowston suffered an even more frustrating afternoon against Swardeston A.

They also piled on the runs to finish on 291-6, only for the opposition to bat well themselves before settling for a draw on 224-9. Simon Chipperfield (118 not out) and Harry Dalton (100) both reached three figures for Sprowston while Matthew Taylor (67 not out) and Freddie Ruffell (59) led the response, with Taylor seeing out the final five overs in the company of No 11 Tom Poole.

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Brooke remain in title contention a further 10 points back following a six wicket win at Cromer, from whom 225-5 was not enough. Mike Jones (76 not out) and Richard Porter (64) were the main men for Brooke.

It's getting interesting at the other end of the table after an eye-catching result for struggling Stow. The west Norfolk side travelled to Diss and came away with a hugely impressive seven wicket win after dismissing their hosts for just 120.

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As a result they are now just five points behind third from bottom Swardeston A, while all the sides in the bottom half will now be looking anxiously over their shoulders. Ashmanaugh and Barton Wanderers remain rooted to the bottom after being dismissed for a paltry 52 as they chased Old Buckenham's modest total of 142 with Jon Lee claiming 5-18.

It was an excellent day for North Runcton – and Ben Coote in particular – in Division One as they recorded a comfortable win while leaders Garboldisham were being beaten at home.

Runcton are now just nine points off top spot with a game in hand after coasting home by seven wickets against Great Witchingham A, who they bowled out for only 97 with Coote returning the outstanding figures of 9-35.

Meanwhile Garboldisham lost by five wickets to third-placed Lowestoft Town after being restricted to 183.

Norwich A are closing in on promotion following another impressive win.

The Division Two leaders moved 57 points clear of third-placed Thetford with just four games left to play as they bowled out Bradenham for 128 before coasting home for the loss of only one wicket, with Chris Binnie making an unbeaten 70.

With Thetford losing to Bradfield by three wickets, second-placed Hethersett and Tas Valley remain well placed, despite being held to a draw by Old Buckenham A after making 180-6. Matthew Ellis led the way with the bat, scoring 69, while Nick Morton returned the fine figures of 4-26.

It's a tight at the top in Division Three, with Vauxhall Mallards A moving a point clear of morning leaders Brooke A after both sides won their latest fixtures.

Former Norfolk opener Carl Amos made 109 as Mallards got home by five wickets after dismissing Sprowston A for 194, thanks largely to Matt Seager's 6-11, while Brooke were given a fright by North Runcton A before edging home by two wickets.

Winterton went marching on at the top of Division Five after posting 206-7 and then bowling out Dersingham for 103 (Danny Snowling 4-24). Mundford are still looking good for second spot following an impressive eight wicket win at Sheringham.

Alliance new boys Martham and Bircham are looking like title winners in Divisions Five and Six respectively.

With second-placed Hethersett and Tas Valley A inactive Martham went 26 points clear of their section thanks to an emphatic win over Lowestoft Town A, who were skittled out for 130. Bircham could not force a win against Diss A, who showed no interest in chasing a target of 253-6, but remain 52 points clear of closest rivals Thetford A. John King was Bircham's hero with 142.

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