Ton-up Ali Ponder the hero as Barton Wanderers escape Norfolk Alliance relegation
A dramatic final day of Frankly Digital Alliance Premier Division action saw Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers pull off a nerve-shredding escape act and four-times former champions Downham leapfrog west Norfolk rivals Fakenham to snatch runners-up spot.
Ali Ponder was the hero for newly-merged Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers, who had looked doomed for much of the campaign.
A revival spearheaded by South African Hendro Puchert in recent weeks had given Wanderers a fighting chance of avoiding the second relegation berth but the final-day odds seemed to favour Lowestoft, who were entertaining already-relegated Acle, while ABW travelled to Diss. After the hosts put a respectable 195-8 total on board, featuring 65 from Ben Spinks, long-serving Ponder rose to the challenge with 105. ABW reached their target with four wickets in hand with one ball to spare, helped by Craig Beeden (41) and Scott Hayes 20 not out.
Acle posted only their second win of the season on a rare going day for their batsmen – Geoff Handley topscoring with 56 in a 176 total.
Lowestoft fell 39 runs short and their relegation fate was sealed.
Duncan Lanchester's Downham ended their campaign on a high note beating Fakenham, who had featured in the two-horse title race with Norwich for so long, by three wickets. A half-century from Harry Evans helped Lanchester's men along the way.
EAPL-hopefuls Norwich cemented their title success with a 59-run win at Old Buckenham, helped by Aaron Watson's 74. Leg-spinner Robbie Austin bagged four wickets for the hosts.
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Demolition duo Andy Hanby and Rob Purton secured Sprowston success at Stow, sharing all 10 wickets in the 50-run win.
Hanby (5-38) took five of the first six wickets to fall and Purton (5-26) took three wickets in four balls as Stow lost their last seven wickets for 23 runs.
A half-century from Andrew Barrett and a five-wicket haul for Keiran Bunting paved the way for North Runcton's 87-run away win over Vauxhall Mallards A.