Stony Stratford ended a run of four successive defeats with a spirited 19 run victory at Brixworth on Saturday.
It was a much needed triumph, bringing a vital 30 points which has helped Stony open up a fifty point gap over bottom side Burton Latimer and brought them within 15 points of Brixworth in ninth place.
Stony’s recent performances have been stifled by a real struggle to score runs, a situation which has intensified over the last few weeks as they have struggled to post scores in excess of a hundred. Needless to say, at this level, that doesn’t give you much chance of winning games.
After thirty overs of Saturday’s game, those batting woes had reared their heads again and at 65-5 Stony were again heading in to deep trouble.
But one of the more positive innings of the season so far was played by James Pickles, a man who has played most of his cricket at Stony in the 2nds.
He made the most of his opportunity having been called up into the 1sts with a determined 48, which provided the platform for partnerships with Russell White (35) and the rapidly improving Kevin Wijesinghe (24*).
Pickles was denied a first half-century at this level by running himself out, but he can be forgiven that minor indiscretion as it was his innings which really the platform from which Stony were able to post 174 for 8 from their 55 overs.
Earlier White had batted with real patience and curbed his attacking instincts whilst wickets tumbled at the other end thanks to good spells from Sam Bold (2-16) and Fred Newborough (2-13).
Brixworth have been boosted in recent weeks by some major contributions from Northants all rounder Stephen Crook, but his inclusion in the Northants county championship side on Sunday meant he was absent here.
The hosts batting line up still included plenty of class, including Tom Worthington who had scored no fewer than three hundreds against Stony in the past two seasons.
But Worthington was bowled by Russell White for 23 and was one of five early wickets to fall as Brixworth struggled.
Stony’s attack has been in decent form this year despite not often having many runs to defend and here, Stony captain Alex Strong bowled with good pace and accuracy to grab three early scalps.
The fielding was also well up to scratch as both Akheam Fox and Vicram Sohal took excellent catches that were to prove critical.
A sixth wicket stand between Peter Caunt (29) and Ashley Starmer (52) threatened to put the hosts back in the game on 108 for 5, before Starmer became one of three wickets for Graham Simpson (3 for 18).
Wickets continued to fall at a regular pace from here and in the end it was Strong who returned to trap Ross McLean in front lbw for 0, the skipper finishing with 4-47 but more importantly, a full thirty points.
Stony will have to be at their best on Saturday as they take on leaders Rushden, another side packed with professionals who have taken the league by surprise so far this season.
While the 1sts were busy getting their season back on track, Stony 2nds suffered a surprise 65 run defeat to mid table Kettering at Campbell Park in Division 2.
They would have been happy at the half way point, having restricted the visitors to just 147 for 8. Jilesh Pattni lead the way for Stony with the ball taking 3-22 and with two wickets Sean Rebbetts and Aaron Ashton, it looked like Kettering didn’t have enough to trouble Stony.
That proved far from the case however as the visitors bowled brilliantly to rush to the home side out for just 82. Sean Stokes was the main man for Kettering, taking 4 for 26 whilst Pattni’s 25 was the best Stony could muster on a disappointing afternoon.
Stony 3rds won another tight game in Division 5, this time at Burton Latimer 3rds. Burton batted first and posted 141 all out.
Stony used no less than eight bowlers and Ben Arnold was the most successful of them with 3 for 15 whilst there were two wickets apiece for Neil Fewtrell and Oswin Peter.
In reply, Stony got home by three wickets after really struggling early on.
Youngster Craig Coxon showed real promise for the future with a match winning 49 not out. Neil Allen had earlier hit a calm 23 when wickets were tumbling around him.