Crawley loss opens up the title fight

North Crawley's Alex Walker is sent back to the pavilion
North Crawley's Alex Walker is sent back to the pavilion

Eaton Bray threw open the fight for Division 1 supremacy with a stellar win over reigning champions North Crawley on Saturday.

Free scoring North Crawley had started the day on top of the pile, but having lost their first game of the season last time out, were keen to get back to winning ways.

Bray though had made a good start to their season, and found themselves mixing it at the sharp end of the table in fourth.

But things swung in their direction early on though when dangerous opener Alex Walker was sent back to the pavilion with just a run next to his name, taken out by Andrew Norris.

Glenn Young (12) joined him shortly afterwards before the introduction of Jaco Jacobs blew apart the champions’ innings.

Jacobs removed the league’s top runs-scorer Matt Goss for 43, with Crawley on 110-4. But he didn’t stop there as he ended with figures of 4-43 to skittle through the middle order.

Old Bradwell's Jason Loveland. Pic: Mark Rider.

Old Bradwell's Jason Loveland. Pic: Mark Rider.

James Flacknell wrapped things up in the tail with three wickets, but Crawley refused to give up, ending on 196-9.

The response got off to a great start, with an opening stand of 69 between Wes Hosking and Paul Harris.

Hosking went for 53, bringing Josh Peacock to the crease, and it was his unbeaten 64 which really piled on the pressure on the home side.

With plenty of overs in hand, Eaton Bray comfortably made it home on 197-4.

This meant Milton Keynes’ draw against MK City was enough to see them steal top spot.

Jalil Sear led the way for MK with 62, ably assisted by David Garner’s 50, though they weren’t able to see out their overs, bowled out for a very respectable 238.

With the ball, Daniel Ramsell did most of the damage for the would-be leaders. His 4-42 rattled through the MK City order, though there were enough pockets of resistance down the order to see City (148-9) home for a draw.

It saw MK take over at the top of Division 1, while City remain rooted to the bottom.

Things remain tight at the bottom though, and New Bradwell were able to open some much needed breathing room with a win over New City.

New City were bowled out inside 34 overs, despite 60 from Asad Mahmood, though he wasn’t blessed with a host of support.

The response from New Bradwell came immediately in the form of openers Charlie Maw (55) and James McMillan (45), who put the home side in a great position, with enough in hand to see them home on 175-3.

It’s pretty tight in Division 2 as well, with just 14 points separating the top five sides, and the top two level on points.

But it was Bromham who came out on top when they met at the weekend.

Bromham’s Kev Grice took 5-30 as he tore through Aspley Guise’s top order, and they were eventually all out for 192.

The reply took just 34.2 overs as Bromham (194-4) drew level.

Meanwhile Cranfield University won in somewhat bizarre circumstances, beating Eggington Foresters by 57 runs.

Just two batsmen reached double figures for Cranfield as they were reduced for just 106, with Abid Shafait taking 4-17.

But incredibly, it was too much for Eggington to chase as they had a horror show with the bat.

Ravi Ravi’s 6-14 tore through the order, and left Eggs toiling. Such was the level of devastation, Eggington never recovered, and were quickly back in the pavilion with just 49 runs to their name and a heavy defeat.

Old Bradwell edged their way away from the danger zone at the wrong end of the table with a winning draw against North Crawley 2nds.

Jason Loveland hit 80 as the hosts reached 192-8, though Richard Braybrook did his level best to hold things up for Crawley with 5-51.

The reply didn’t really get going, with a few starts through the Crawley line-up, but nothing to really get the scoreboard rolling.

In the end, they had to settle for a draw, coming in on 153-9.

Stoke Hammond (148-8) remain bottom of the table despite holding out for a draw against Newport Pagnell (254-6), while Milton Bryan (101) join them in the relegation zone after losing to Olney Town (233-6).

In Division 3, Printers ((145) continue to lead the way after their win over Studham (138).

But Westcroft (249-5) are still hot on their heels after beating Shenley Church End (124-9), thanks to an unbeaten 95 from Faheem Aftab.

Open University aren’t out of the title fight either, and kept up the pressure thanks to two centuries in their win over Tring Park 4ths.

Basil Lall (100) and Param Gill (132 not out) put them firmly in control as they scored 279-3. Tring in reply never got used to the conditions, and with Sardar Ahmad’s 4-40, struggled to make an impact as they were bowled out for 137.

In Division 4, Westcroft (220-3) beat Whitchurch (203-7) to stay top, MK 2nds (228-8) drew with Wing with Wingrave (180-9), Olney 2nds (257-4) drew with Milton Bryan 2nds (160-3)but New City 2nds (170) drew with Drayton Parslow (242-7).

Great Brickhill 3rds stay top of Division 5, despite only drawing with Eaton Bray 2nds.

Setting a competitive 218-7, Brickhill’s bowers weren’t able to break through some stern Bray batting, who held on for 186-6. Brickhill’s lead at the top of the table though is a huge 48 points.

Further down the order, Stewkley Vicarage (138-4) made light work of Milton Keynes City 2nds (134) to beat them by six wickets. North Crawley 3rds (156-9) beat Elstow (50) and New Bradwell 2nds (22) were thumped by Winslow (36-0).

In Division 6, Old Bradwell 2nds (207-7) beat Buckland & Aston Clinton (143), while Stoke Hammond 2nds conceded to Newport Pagnell 2nds.

In Division 7, Printers 2nds (155-7) lost to Edlesborough (156-5), Wolverton 3rds (121) lost to Ivinghoe & Pitstone 2nds (136), New City 3rds (186) beat Bletchley 3rds and Aspley guise 2nds (168-4) beat Wilden (167-6).