Stony Stratford were edged out by one wicket in a dramatic encounter against title chasing Rushden at Campbell Park.
Stony’s lacklustre start to the season sees them sitting a disappointing tenth in the table with nine games played.
Going into the game, big spending Rushden would have been clear favourites but for much of the afternoon, it looked like Stony were going to spring an upset until a fine innings from former Northants all rounder Christian Davis proved to be decisive for the title chasing visitors.
Newly promoted Rushden are almost unrecognisable from the side that was relegated from the Premier Division several seasons ago.
After winning Division One at a canter last year, they have taken the NCL by storm this year with a side packed with professionals and they look to be genuine challengers to reigning champions and current table toppers Peterborough.
But they faced a serious challenge from a competitive Stony side who were on a high after a good win away at Brixworth last week.
Stony’s total of 244 was built around a fine innings from Aussie import Hayden Mullins, who hit a fabulous 128.
It was a second century of the season for the 18 year old from Adelaide who now has 430 runs from nine innings for Stony.
But the rest of the order failed to fire and crucially, Stony failed to bat their entire 55 overs, being bowled out in 50 overs and handing 5 to the visitors to help them with their chase.
Still, 244 was a challenging total and with Stony’s side including Northants quickie Maurice Chambers for the first time, they were confident of defending that total.
And when Rushden were 87-4 and then 142 for 7, they were well on top of proceedings. Rushden’s chase got off to a decent start but was slowed dramatically with the introduction of Stony’s spinners Graham Simpson and Vicram Sohal.
Simpson bowled his entire 17 over allocation straight through to record fine figures of 3 for 50 and Sohal was equally impressive in his spell of 4-67.
The pair took the first seven wickets to fall but in amongst all of this, Rushden’s Davis was building a match winning century of his own.
As wickets tumbled at the other end, Davis remained composed as the pressure built.
When Chambers - who was a bit short in his first spell but found a great length in his second – had number 10 Will Liptrot caught for one, Rushden were nine down and on the brink. But Stony, who dropped a couple of catches on the way, were unable to force the last wicket.
Rushden were two overs in to their extra allocation when they eventually got over the line, with Davis unbeaten on 105.
It was a fine game and one that Stony could take real heart from as well 14 important points. They will take heart from pushing such a good side all the way, but will also be disappointed that they weren’t able to turn a winning position into a second successive victory.
Stony 2nds bounced back from a rare defeat last week with a comprehensive nine wicket thrashing of their Rushden counterparts in Division 2.
Stony’s young bowling attack once again shone here, with Aaron Ashton (4-30) and Josh Whitehead (2–31) really impressive with the new ball. They decimated the Rushden top order and then Roger Rebbetts (4-29) swept up the tail with a fine spell of his own, the home side all out for just 115 in 40 overs.
Stony had no trouble in getting the runs. They lost only the wicket of Rebbetts early on before prolific skipper Chris Swain (56*) and veteran Neil Allen (42*) both remained unbeaten as the total was reached inside 33 overs.
Stony are now back into third place, just two points behind Kettering who are in the second promotion slot.