Title-chasing Lea And Roses extended their lead at the top of the Bassetlaw League’s Second Division table with a dominant winning draw against their closest rivals, Anston 2nd.
The trip to second-placed Anston was billed as a potential decider for the champions’ crown, with the south Yorkshire hosts just 22 points behind the Gainsborough outfit.
But after Lea And Roses had amassed a tremendous total of 292-8, that gap had been stretched to 30 points with just five matches of the season remaining. Anston, who replied with 198-8, remain in the runners-up slot, but a further three points behind are third-placed Mansfield Hosiery Mills 2nd, who are also hunting down one of the two promotion places.
Lea And Roses were put into bat first at Anston and got off to a good start, losing only the wicket of Chris Needham, bowled by the expensive Joe Clay (1-67 in ten overs), early doors.
Richard Keightley and Lee Mardle were the pair that inflicted much of the damage, dealing in boundaries when the ball was there to be hit. Keightley reached 50 in 37 balls, and the pair shared a solid partnership of 112 for the second wicket before Mardle fell for 47 (eight fours), bowled by Simon Whatley (1-27 in five overs).
Capitalising on this promising platform, the visitors continued to make hay. James Cooper was the next man in and looked to accelerate the score alongside Keightley. The total grew to 157 before Keightley played one on to his stumps after a fine knock of 70, which contained two sixes and ten fours. Cooper followed shortly afterwards for 24, which included one six and three fours, leaving the scoreboard reading 169-4.
Skipper Andy Dewick and Ben Smith were the batsmen at the crease now and with plenty of overs to go, they played sensibly, building the total to above 200 before Dewick was caught on 17 to become the first of three victims for Anston’s first-change bowler Jamie Pearson (3-89 in 11 overs).
With 15 overs remaining, Daniel Clay joined Smith and the pair knocked the ball around nicely before Smith took the attack to Anston in the last ten overs. Smith continued to push the score along before he was caught when looking to go over the top for a well-played 43 (one six and five fours).
Brad Wilson joined Clay and they eyed 300 in the closing overs. Clay fell for 33 (one six and two fours), while Wilson was undefeated on 27 (two sixes and two fours) when the innings drew to a close in the 46th over. Scott Woolley was left undefeated on seven at the other end.
In reply, Anston never matched the run-rate required to reach their lofty target. Pressure built from the start with Dewick (ten overs for 18 runs) bowling tight lines which prevented the openers from scoring freely.
After presenting Lea And Roses with a few chances, Anston eventually succumbed when Ben Smith effected a run out and Cooper (2-70 in 13 overs) then took the wicket of the incoming number three, Mark Parkinson, courtesy of a catch behind by wicketkeeper Mardle.
From here, the home side knuckled down, even though the game already seemed to be behind them. A couple of bowling changes saw Woolley (2-37 in seven overs) and Andy Orton (2-33 in ten overs) make further inroads into the Anston line-up, both taking two wickets.
By now, Lea And Roses were poised to finish the job off, but they were denied an outright victory by the stubbornness of Anston’s experienced skipper, Peter Norbury, and defiant tailender Whatley.
Norbury made 36 and although Cooper returned to dislodge him and Ben Smith also chipped in with a late wicket, Whatley remained and finished on 53no to salvage a losing draw for the hosts, who were also boosted by 29 extras.
THE Gainsborough Evening Twenty20 League’s Knockout Cup has been won for the second season running by Blyton. In an entertaining final, Blyton beat Haxey to lift the prestigious trophy.