Hales & Loddon (202-3) beat Mattishall A (198-6) by seven wickets in Norfolk Alliance Division Five.
Long-serving opener Milton Lindsay and all-rounder Mark Stewart posted unbeaten half-centuries as Hales & Loddon stepped up their battle to pull clear of the Norfolk Alliance Division five basement zone. The duo steered the side past the 199 winning post with 17 balls to spare as H&L completed their first double and their fifth victory of a rollercoaster campaign.
H&L had started the day propping up the division but a 23 points success catapulted them to 5th from bottom. With three Saturdays remaining, including a blank day for H&L this Saturday, and a mere nine points separating the bottom five, a tense finish is assured. Having been set a target of 199 to win, H&L knew they could not afford the type of top order batting collapses that had seen them surrender decent victory chances against fellow basement battlers Lowestoft A and Swardeston CEYMS in recent encounters.
After suffering the early setback of losing Tobagan recruit Auldwyn Lindsay cheaply, trapped leg before wicket, the veteran Lindsay and in-form Will Yates set about putting the reply on track. Yates hit the ground running with a series of confident and powerful strokes that swiftly took his tally to 40 before the umpire’s finger confirmed his demise, trapped lbw by Oliver Hood. After overcoming his obvious disappointment, Yates returned the bat he was using to owner Josh Pitcher. But the H&L skipper had no chance to use it as he was out cleanbowled for a golden duck. Pitcher’s willow was then passed to Stewart, who arrived at the crease on a hat-trick with the H&L innings in a precarious position.
After a cautious start Stewart moved through the gears, hitting 12 fours as he posted an unbeaten 76. He dominated a match-winning partnership of 115 with Lindsay, who provided a much-needed rock-like presence at the crease, batting from start to finish for his unbeaten 53.
Earlier skipper Pitcher had won the toss and invited Mattishall to bat first. The visitors bore little resemblance to the freescoring line-up that had posted 250 in the first encounter between the sides this term. Nevertheless, on a pitch which, although not a road, offered no great encouragement to the bowlers, runs came at a reasonable rate with opener Oliver Hood leading the assault. He looked set for a century before falling victim to a delivery from Graham Squire, who had been forced to switch from pace to off-spin after injuring his groin. Hood was sent back for 85 as Auldwyn Lindsay reacted smartly to pouch a low drive. Sam Davison was the other chief contributor to the Mattishall total. He had scored 58 when he was bowled by a swinging delivery from Pitcher, who shared four wickets with Squire.
This Saturday H&L do not have a game. Their final matches are at home to Hethersett & Tas Valley and away to Beccles.