Northants League: Stony hold on to deny leaders

Stony get the covers on at home to Finedon on Saturday.
Stony get the covers on at home to Finedon on Saturday.

Northants League Premier Division leaders Finedon Dolben were left frustrated by a resilient Stony Stratford at Campbell Park.

Despite being dominated for large parts of the game, Stony held firm to pick up a very welcome draw after a couple of rain delays.

Stony are now unbeaten in their last three matches since their nightmare trip to Northampton Saints which saw them rolled over for just 43 a month ago.

Saturday’s game was very similar to the Peterborough Town game three weeks ago where Stony had to hang on for the draw, but perhaps earlier in the season their batting fragility would have seen them bowled out and consigned to defeat.

So clearly, improvements are being made and Stony’s confidence is now building ahead of a must win game at Brixworth this weekend.

Stony lost the toss against an unbeaten Finedon side at Campbell Park and visiting skipper Andy Daniels chose to bat on the flattest wicket in the county.

No surprise there, and there were few shocked that the league’s form side raced to 50 inside the first 10 overs of play. Former Northants opener Ben Howgego was soon knicked off by Kevin Wijesinghe for 13, but Chris Todd (31) and Greg Evans (28) made sure Finedon started well.

Rain intervened twice to take the sides off the field, but no overs were lost and neither was the way team’s momentum. Wicket keeper and number four batsman Greg Hofbaeur became the lynchpin of the innings as his team-mates struggled to score at anywhere near the same rate, thanks to steady the bowling of Wijesinghe (1-17) and Graham Simpson (2-74).

And there was also a first bowl and wicket of the year for South African import Tyler Lorton (1-40). In the end, Hofbauer fell just short of his century on 94, giving Finedon the opportunity to declare their innings four overs early on 235-5.

Despite Stony’s relative struggle with the bat so far this summer, young opener Tom Moore’s form has been a real plus, and once again he proved to be key to the hosts hanging on for a share of the points.

Moore batted for 35 overs and for 37 runs after losing opening partner Simpson early on for 11.

Lorton and then Ed Tate both fell lbw to Chris Goode shortly after, and then when Jarrod Pretorius snicked one behind for 10 off spinner and another former county man, Tom Brett, Stony were really struggling.

However, there was a fine innings from Nick Allen who followed up his half century against Peterborough with an unbeaten 35 here.

Andy Miller (12) did well to hang around to give Allen some support, and when he departed Stony skipper Alex Strong joined Allen to bat out the remaining nine overs to give his side a draw, closing on 147-7.

It was only the second time that Finedon haven’t won this season. They look formidable as they aim to win back the NCL title that they’ve won eight times in the last 10 years.

Meanwhile Stony 2nds picked up their third win of the season at bottom side Irchester in Division Two.

Stony quickly dismissed their hosts for just 91 before cantering to an easy seven wicket victory, which sees them remain in eighth place.

In Division Five, Stony 3rds opted out of trying to chase down Oundle 2nds’ target of 241-8 and settled for a draw almost from ball one, ending well short on 141-4.