Stow and Diss seal promotion to top flight of Norfolk Alliance

Long-serving Steve Goldsmith receives a guard of honour from his Vauxhall Mallards team-mates after

Long-serving Steve Goldsmith receives a guard of honour from his Vauxhall Mallards team-mates after coming out to bat for the club the final time at Halvergate on Saturday in the Norfolk Alliance match against Stow. Turn inside for a report. Picture: Alan Tinkler - Credit: Archant

Stow and Diss sealed promotion back to the top flight of the Norfolk Alliance on a dramatic final day at the top of Division One.

Swardeston A had gone into the weekend leading the way by eight points, but ended up missing out altogether after losing at fellow promotion challengers Dereham.

That result opened the door for Stow and Diss to finish in the top two – and they both did what they had to do to leave their rivals reflecting on what might have been.

The morning leaders looked well placed to secure the win they needed when they bowled Dereham out for just 164. But on a pitch where the bowlers generally held sway it proved a more than competitive total and the visitors were dismissed for 134, with Jake Anema taking for 4-30.

Both sides then needed favours from elswehere to go up – and they didn't get them.

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An in-form Stow side beat Vauxhall Mallards A by five wickets when chasing 225, while Diss breezed past Lowestoft in double quick time after bowling them out for 88.

In-form opener Keith Thompson was the hero for Stow, making an unbeaten 100 after his side had slipped to 131-5, while Chris Cooper returned the outstanding figures of 6-28 for Diss.

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Stow's match was also notable for the final appearance of Mallards' former Derbyshire and Norfolk all-rounder Steve Goldsmith at the age of 52. The veteran marked the occasion by scoring 84 in 76 balls in a opening partnership of 131 with another county old boy Carl Amos (46).

With the Premier Division title having been secured by Downham Town last week the focus in the Premier Division was on the foot of the table, with four sides in danger of going down with Sprowston.

In the end Horsford A stayed in the bottom two after losing at Downham - but that only tells half the story.

The visitors put up a tremendous fight against the champions, bowling them out for 184 and then getting all the way up to 180 (Callum Metcalf 52) before losing their final wicket in the 42nd over. That meant Fakenham survived after seeing their three-match winning run halted by North Runcton, who won by 131 runs at Highfield Lawn after making 240-7.

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