Swardeston closing in on EAPL title after impressive win
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
Swardeston are closing in on a fourth successive Gibbs Denley East Anglian League title after moving 41 points clear at the top of the table with just four matches left to play.
While closest rivals Cambridge Granta were collapsing in dramatic fashion against Horsford, Mark Thomas' side were playing like champions as they produced a thoroughly professional performance to see off Saffron Walden by eight wickets.
The leaders, who are going for their sixth title in all, never looked back after bowling their visitors out for just 178 at The Common, with Alistair Russell offering the only real resistance with a gutsy 85 and Thomas leading from the front with figures of 6-39.
The hosts quickly lost Peter Lambert for a duck but then cruised to their 11th win of the season in the 37th over, with Jordan Taylor (48) and Stephen Gray (92 not out) putting on 96 for the second wicket and Gray and Lewis Denmark (29 not out) an unbroken 83 for the third.
Granta looked well set to keep the pressure on when they put Horsford in to bat at Clare College and reduced them to 77-9.
But Stephan Marillier was then joined by Caleb Futter in a last wicket partnership of 69 that gave the match a completely different complexion.
When Marillier was finally last man out for 94 the Horsford bowlers had something to defend – and they rose to the challenge in brilliant fashion, skittling their hosts out for a paltry 79.
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Ben France led the way with 5-31, his second successive 'fifer' in the league, while Chris Brown weighed in with 3-10 as the visitors moved 44 points clear of the relegation position.
Norwich are 15 points away from trouble after producing a determined rearguard action to come away from Frinton-on-Sea with a draw.
The Essex side's total of 199-9 (Ashley Watson 5-38) was never threatened, but the Carter Cup winners showed true grit to bat out 50 overs for just 83 runs, with two wickets to spare at the end, with Sanjay Mishra facing 88 balls for 24.
It has been an excellent season for Vauxhall Mallards, who are now just four points behind Cambridge Granta in third position after a convincing win over Copdock and Ipswichian.
Their imposing total of 325-3 declared was built around a superb second-wicket partnership of 224 between Mitchell Todd (129) and Devon Conway (138 not out), with the pair scoring 30 fours and four sixes between them.
Copdock were then dismissed for 195, with Mitchell Todd, Adam Todd and Brett Stolworthy sharing the bulk of the wickets while Northamptonshire paceman Olly Stone – making a welcome appearance for his home club – took one from his four overs.
Sam Arthurton's glorious summer continued when he scored 150 in Great Witchingham's massive total of 348-9 declared against Bury St Edmunds.
Brenton McDonald also made three figures, reaching 155, and then led the reply by taking 4-52, but Bury boosted their survival hopes by holding out for a draw on 228-8.