The gap in class between title chasers and also rans was there for all to see in Saturday’s NCL Premier Division clash between Finedon and Stony Stratford on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Stony, it’s Finedon who are doing the title chasing, as usual – and they did their hopes of reclaiming the championship back from Peterborough Town no harm at all after storming to a 146 win at Avenue Road.
Stony were briefly in the hunt early on in the game thanks to a blistering opening spell from skipper Alex Strong.
His pace and movement was too much for Finedon’s top three. Opposite number Andy Daniels was bowled without scoring, as was number 3 Greg Evans – both of whom were late on their shots having been beaten for pace.
When former Northants opener Ben Howgego snicked Strong behind to Tom Moore for 18, Finedon were in trouble on 27-3. Stony’s fortunes seemed to change from the moment Strong then bowled Jake Kings off a no ball.
The skipper took himself out of the attack and Kings, who then survived a huge shout for lbw and offered up two straight forward catches later on, went on to make 78 to revive the innings.
Jon Dunne’s 58 was also crucial as Finedon built an imposing score as, with the exception of Andrew Ellemore who bowled tidily for his 1-26, the Stony bowling was uncharacteristically poor.
Dunne and Kings took the hosts over the 200 mark before a late barrage from Jack Chopping (40 off 25 balls) took the hosts well beyond a par score and on to a huge 261-8 declared.
Stony’s batting effort was an almost carbon copy of their trials with the ball in hand.
They got off to a steady start, mainly thanks to Tyler Lorton’s calm 26. The South African looked in great touch and with the wicket still perfect for batting, he was mightily disappointed to be given out lbw having been completely untroubled up to that point.
From here on in, with the exception of Jarrod Pretorius, the Stony batting was a horror show.
Their weakness against spin, which has been an Achilles heel so often this season, was exposed once again as another former Northants man undid them with the ball.
Left arm spinner Tom Brett took match winning figures of 6-38 as Stony crumbled to 115 all out.
Pretorius showed real fight mixed with his usual attacking strokeplay on his way to an impressive 48, but unfortunately for him, Ed Tate’s 19 was the next highest score on a day Stony would rather forget.
Stony still have three matches remaining this season, and will fancy their chances to pick up a few more wins before the campaign is over.
They take on mid-table side Brixworth at home on Saturday, before a trip to Rushton in the penultimate week.
Their season finishes with a home match against Burton Latimer, though none of the sides have anything to play for but pride at this stage in the season.
There was much better news for Stony 2nds who recorded a ninth win of an excellent campaign at Campbell Park against Irchester.
They had another Chris Swain hundred to thank in the main for the win, the veteran’s unbeaten 116 out of a Stony total of 199 telling it’s own story.
To their credit, the Stony bowlers backed up Swain’s fine performance with their own efforts. The visitors fell well short on 125 all out and it was Roger Rebbetts who did the bulk of the damage for Stony, claiming 4-21.
Steve Richardson’s 3-14 made sure that relegation threatened Irchester would get nowhere near the target.
Stony’s latest win saw them consolidate their fifth position in Division 2.
Stony 3rds were clearly second best at Oundle 2nds in Division 5 but still managed to hang on for a draw despite seeing their bowling being hit for over 300 runs in just 43 overs.
Hundreds for Jack Bolsover and Peter Foster saw the home side declare on 301-2 but in the end they would have been left wishing they had pulled out earlier.
Stony never got anywhere near the target, but 58 from Nabeel Ahmed and some resistance down the order saw the hosts only managing to take eight Stony wickets before the innings closed on 186.