Hales & Loddon racked up their biggest total of the season as they recorded their third consecutive victory to keep the pressure on the Norfolk Alliance Division Six pacesetters.
A youth and experience opening partnership paid dividends as young all-rounder Isaac Rolph weighed in with 80 and veteran Milton Lindsay contributed 66 in an entertaining 141-run stand spanning 27 overs.
H&L had been invited to bat on a green-top wicket which threatened to favour Dereham’s early bowlers but Lindsay and Rolph discovered few demons in the surface as they peppered the boundary with regularity. Left-hander Lindsay hit 10 fours in an attractive knock before dwindling patience with the slow bowling of Dereham skipper Tom Head saw him pop up a lame drive into the hands off mid-off.
Rolph departed the stage soon afterwards, caught behind off the bowling of Neil Widdows for 80, a knock of controlled aggression containing 13 fours and a six.
The momentum was maintained as H&L powered on to their best total of the season so far, Jack Cook weighing in with a no-nonsense 20, in-form new recruit Jon Andrews adding a stylish 33 and Will Yates bouncing back to form with a typically uncompromising quickfire 27. All-rounder Mark Stewart (16) provided the icing on the cake, drilling two straight sixes on to the bowling green as the innings reached a crescendo.
Dereham set about chasing a daunting-looking 266 victory total purposefully, but needing to score at around six and over, never truly gained the upper hand.
Paceman Isaac Rolph set H&L on their way to victory with a ripsnorter of a bouncer which opener Ryan Fitt top-edged on to the helmet, leaving wicket-keeper Jack Cook to complete the formalities of the catch.
Opener Sam Widdows kept up the fight with a determined 49, and there were spirited lower order efforts from Stuart Darbyshire (57) and tailender Liam Jarvis (31 not out) before the visitors’ innings closed on 226-9.
Mark Stewart was the pick of the H&L bowlers, claiming 4 for 26 from nine overs and managing to extract more than anybody else from the pitch with a fizzing cocktail of seam deliveries.
Rolph combined raw pace with flashes of malevolence to return 2 for 48 from nine overs, while young swing bowler Ben Turner underlined his growing maturity with 2 for 21 from seven overs. The other wicket fell to slow bowler Dean Fisher, whose figures of 1 for 54 from 9 overs reflected the difficulties of bowling into a relentless wind blowing down the ground. H&L skipper Josh Pitcher had been forced to withdraw himself from the attack after six fruitless overs after injuring his hand in the field and resorted to the slow bowling options of Andrews and Yates.
After a shaky start, wicketkeeper Cook warmed to his task by taking four catches. He redeemed himself by taking three off the bowling of Stewart, who had earlier seen two potential victims let off the hook by the glovesman.