Hales (195) beat Dereham A (186) by nine runs in Norfolk Alliance Division Six.
Teenage bowling talent Sam Ford hit top gear as Hales & Loddon beat Dereham A by nine runs in a pulsating encounter. Ford produced a great spell of death bowling to complete a four-wicket haul as H&L halted a spirited Dereham tailend revival in its tracks just when victory appeared to be there for the taking.
Having set the hosts a 196 target to win, H&L had a strong grip on the game at 97-6 off 27 overs. But the arrival of big-hitting number eight Phil Rowe was to tip the balance the hosts’ way. Cashing in on some loose leg side bowling, as well as slack fielding which saw him dropped three times, the veteran smashed nine fours and two sixes in an impressive 61-run display of power hitting.
Victory was within sight when medium-pacer Ford produced the delivery which sent Rowe back to the pavilion, much to the relief of the hapless H&L fielders who had spurned chances to remove the key man.
Amidst mounting tension Ford and young sidekick Ben Turner produced intelligent bowling under pressure to see their side over the line. Fittingly they combined to capture the final wicket as Turner pouched the final batsman at point off the bowling of Ford on the fourth ball of the 45th over. Ford sealed figures of 4 for 29 from 7.4 overs while Turner’s 2 for 31 from eight overs was also an excellent effort under the most testing circumstances. Josh Pitcher was the pick of the early H&L bowlers, finding good movement for his 2-24 from nine overs while paceman Isaac Rolph (9 overs 1 for 36) and seamer Mark Stewart (9 overs 1 for 22) also enjoyed respectable spells.
Other key contributors to the Dereham total were Neil Irons (27), Andrew Marshall (13), Tom Head (18), Jack Perrin-West (13) and Liam Jarvis (12) but H&L felt they could have put the game to bed far sooner with better fielding after six catching chances of varying difficulties were spurned. In the end eight of the 10 Dereham batsmen were clean bowled, with wicket-keeper Jack Cook and Turner the only ones to take catches.
Earlier H&L had decided to bat on a good-looking track and skipper Jon Andrews’ (37) decision looked justified as he and opening partner Isaac Rolph (39) put 80 on the board in good time, displaying an uncompromising attitude as the early bowlers struggled to find their lines. When both fell to catches off the bowling of fired-up Neil Widdows the tempo slowed. Milton Lindsay’s visit to the crease was a brief one as he was adjudged lbw off the bowling of Widdows, without scoring. Jack Cook added a useful 18 before being caught off the bowling of Neil Irons while Mark Stewart’s middle order assault ambitions were halted on 41 when he was trapped leg before by well-known European Tour golfer Andrew Marshall.
Despite the efforts of Mark Whiting, who did his best to hold the lower order together with a patient 20, the innings ended on 195 in the 43rd over. Veteran Irons, returning after a year out with injury, did the major damage claiming 5 for 15 from seven overs of medium pace. Fiery slow bowler Neal Widdows returned 3 for 40 from seven overs.
The result saw H&L return to winning ways after three defeats in a row. H&L, who do not have a game this Saturday, are fourth in the table behind leaders Happisburgh, Hockwold and Thetford A.