Stony Stratford made it three wins from as many Northants League Premier Division games on Saturday with a comfortable five wicket success over lowly Wellingborough Town.
It was a first victory of the campaign for Stony at their adopted Campbell Park home and a second triumph against a team who will likely have to battle until the final day of the season to avoid relegation out of the top flight.
After an indifferent first couple of months, Stony are really starting to find form and it’s the improvement in their batting which has been the highlight of their recent purple patch.
Vicram Sohal has added some much needed solidity batting at number three in the last two weeks and his 46 proved vital in the early stages of Stony’s run chase after the visitors had earlier set them 209 to win.
Nick Allen has also been in decent form of late and his 67 really took the game away from Wellingborough, who just didn’t have the attack to defend a slightly below par score on the flattest of flat Campbell Park tracks.
Earlier, after Stony skipper Alex Strong had won the toss and elected to field first, the game looked like it might be heading for a swift conclusion as the visitors slumped to 63-5 before the drinks break.
Strong bowled with pace and movement away from the bat and was unfortunate not to claim more than his 1-55, while Steve Bellew was as frugal with runs as usual at the other end as he claimed 1-16 in his eight overs to put the brakes on the visitors. And when Sohal and Russell White (2-31) grabbed early wickets in their spells, Wellingborough’s innings was in danger of implosion.
But thanks to a mixture of the flashing blade of Drew Brierley and some uncharacteristically inauspicious Stony bowling and fielding under pressure, the innings was brought back to life in the last twenty overs.
Brierley was fortunate to escape a straightforward stumping chance early on off the usually immaculate Tom Moore and soon after survived a simple catch offered up to Sean Rebbets at mid on.
He brought up a battling 50 with five overs to go in the innings, and with Sam Owen (32) offering valuable support at the other end, he decided to try and hit every subsequent ball he faced for a boundary.
That he succeeded was a credit to him and he raced to a fantastic century in the final over before eventually falling to Tyler Lorton’s leg spin.
Lorton bowled a very tidy spell of 3-30 from seven overs at the death to keep the away side below the sort of target that would have caused Stony some serious problems, but still the home side came off for tea feeling a bit deflated having really let the visitors off the hook.
But to their credit, they bounced back well after the break to secure a fifth win of the season. After the in form Moore fell for just 4, Lorton (36) and Sohal put on 50 for the second wicket to keep Stony in the ascendancy.
They remained in charge throughout a well timed chase and after a tricky start to his innings, it was Allen’s knock that was to prove decisive on the day. Once he got going, the veteran really let his attacking instincts take over and for a while sent the visiting bowlers to all parts of Campbell Park.
White briefly showed his class with the bat again with 21 off 30 balls and when Allen fell to Owen, there was still a little work to do at 178-4.
White followed soon after but Graham Simpson (8 not out) and Chris Guy (12 not out) quickly settled any nerves that may have been fluttering in the Stony dressing room and made sure their side got over the line with almost four overs to spare and no further alarm.
It was a brave effort from a young Wellingborough side, but in the end, Stony proved themselves a class apart and they can now surely put all thoughts of getting involved in the relegation scrap firmly out of their minds.
They will see Saturday’s match at struggling Horton House as another excellent opportunity for a victory, but will be wary of surprisingly losing their last season after bowling the home side out for just 120.
Stony 2nds are also in a fine run of form in Division Two and they picked up another win, this time on their travels against Overstone Park.
Prasanna Wijesinghe was the main architect of Stony’s imposing 257-7 – the young Sri Lankan smashing a fine 107, as last week’s centurion Chris Swain continued his superb form with 85.
In reply, Matthew Sunter batted excellently for his 96, but with little support from his team mates as Overstone fell to 193 all out in 47 overs to secure Stony a 64 run victory.
There were three wickets apiece for Aaron Ashton and Karan Patra for Stony, who stay in fifth place in the table after a sixth success win of the season.