Cheltenham, Gloucester and Forest of Dean League, Division One (west): Penallt & Redbrook (126/5) beat Aston Ingham 2nd XI (125/7) by 5 wickets.
Steady bowling and even steadier nerves helped Penallt and Redbrook to their third and finest victory of the season as they upset league leaders Aston Ingham in a tight and low-scoring match at Pelham Hall.
In a sometimes nervy encounter, Myles Evill was the hero of the hour, taking three wickets while conceding just 17 runs from eight beguiling overs of spin before tea, helping to restrict the visiting side to just 125 from their allotted 40 overs.
Evill’s extraordinary precision meant not a single boundary was scored from his bowling – a sterling feat, given that the visiting batsmen arrived in scorching form having scored a momentous 264 the previous week.
It was backed-up by a fine team effort in the field, which meant the high-flyers were never allowed to gain a proper foothold in Saturday’s game after being put into bat when Penallt’s skipper, Graham Hyde, won the toss. The decision to field was a brave call, given the unexpectedly sunny conditions, but the pitch had taken some rain earlier in the week, leading those with local knowledge to suspect the ball might misbehave early on.
That hunch was vindicated in the opening exchanges when Penallt’s opening bowler, Lyndon Jacques, got a couple of balls to jag back in to opening batsmen Luke Ward at an awkward height. One of them removed the Aston Ingham anchorman for just 5 runs in the third over, when he played on after being seduced into waving at a waist-high delivery just outside off peg.
Visiting batsmen Colin Leighton and Martin Jukes then slowly began to establish themselves. But they were never scoring freely, and hit choppy water when Evil and medium-pacer Ross Williams joined the attack. Displaying the metronomic control of top darts pros at the oche, the duo produced three near-scoreless overs. And with scoreboard pressure building, frustration got the better of Leighton, who holed out at deep mid-on to Evill for 18.
After that, Penallt's stranglehold was never really broken. Williams took one for 23 from his eight, and equally miserly bowling contributions from Richard Waterstone (0 for 20 from 7) and Pete Weldon (1 for 11 from 3), left the home side with a distinctly gettable target of 126, at a required run-rate of just three per over.
Penallt, who are sponsored by Paul Jarrold Tyres, got off to a flyer in response with openers Chris Margetts and Hyde putting on 54 runs without loss in the first eight.
But then came the wobble. Hyde was clean bowled on eighteen by a quicker ball from Aston Ingham spinner Matt Davies while Margetts was pinged LBW the very next over for 26. Phil Harris and Waterstone then both perished swiftly, leaving Penallt on a distinctly-vulnerable 70 for 4 with more than fifty left to accumulate on what looked increasingly like a sticky wicket.
The damage was done by Aston Ingham’s first-change bowler Phil Aubrey, who produced one of the spells of the season to bring the game back into the balance, conceding a mere 12 runs from 8 overs, and taking three wickets in the process.
It was left to Penallt’s Guy Adams and Cameron Lee to dampen the prospect of a calamitous collapse. They tentatively saw off Aubrey, scampering ones and twos to bring the target slowly into sight.
When Lee eventually perished for 24 hard-earned runs, in the 25th over, the game was all but won, and Adams (31 not out) reached the target with consecutive fours a few balls later allowing both teams adjourn to the Inn at Penallt for a well-earned pint.
Next Saturday, the village side will try and repeat the trick away at Cinderford. Players of all ages, genders and abilities are very welcome to join them for what remains of an already cracking season. Email Guy Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.