Acton alert as Rob almost leads 2nd XI to victory after brother Chris takes four for five in six!
Bradninch 2nds so nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and it was very much down to a wonderful innings from Rob Acton who rolled back the years to produce a truly gritty effort.
However, it was not to be, and it remains to be seen just how damaging that a nine-run defeat at Bideford, Littleham & Westward Ho 2nd XI will be, come the end of the season.
With promotion rivals Topsham St James inflicting a rare defeat on Sidmouth III it does all suggest that the likelihood is that the Bradninch 2nds now need to win seven of their final eight games to guarantee a top spot and back-to-back promotions.
Arriving at Bideford with no umpire it was soon clear that the home side could also not muster an umpire, nor could they provide a scorer and, when the home side won the toss Bradninch were sent out to field beneath sun-kissed blue skies!
The new ball duties went to James Mills and Ryan Shrewsberry and there was instant success as Mills held a return catch to see the end of one of the openers before he had troubled the scorers.
Cameron Atkinson, younger brother of the centurion who had taken the game away from Bradninch at Instow seven days before, then joined Connor Nash and the pair got the innings up and running, taking the total to 83 in the 20th over before Atkinson fell for a 59-ball 33 — caught by Will Birley off the bowling of Will Greig.
Indeed, after 11 overs Bideford were 55-1 and looking set, but the introduction of Greig at one end and Rob Acton at the other put the brakes on the home side and they laboured to 83-2 after 20 overs before, with the score on 93, Greig struck twice more in quick succession with Birley holding another smart gulley catch and then Mills held another and the home side were 93-4.
That was soon 121-5 as Chris Acton took over from his brother Rob. Will Birley, who took over from Will Greig, claimed a brace and Chris Acton went on to return the eye-catching figures of four wickets for five runs in 6.1 overs as the home innings closed on 155.
After tea, home skipper John Weeks and Connor Nash shared the new ball duties and both struck in their first overs to leave Bradninch 2-2 and both openers, Chris Acton and Will Birley, out in identical fashion, chopping the ball onto their stumps — both without troubling the scorer!
It was soon 15-5 with Tom Hardy (9), Will Greig (0) and Paul Nott (1) all back in the pavilion with Nash claiming two more wickets and Weeks one and, at 30-5 following the departure of Ryan Shrewsberry for eight — an early finish looked highly likely!
However, the experienced Rob Acton had other ideas! He and Bradninch skipper Connor Carthew took the total to 78 before Atkinson trapped Carthew leg before.
This brought Max Cooper out to join Acton and the pair batted superbly, adding 50 for the eighth wicket and turning the game on its head. Indeed, the home side were beginning to look mighty worried before opening bowler Nash was recalled and, with his final delivery he bowled Cooper for 14.
Cooper did a fantastic job, facing 40 deliveries and helping Rob Acton add 50 for the 8th wicket.
However, as so often happen after one of two batsmen fall to end a long batting partnership, the other fell too, with Acton succumbing to a catch — out having faced 72 balls for a wonderful battling 46.
That was not the end of the drama though as last pair James Mills and Jordan Biss, who joined forces with the side 128-9 and still 28 shy of victory, chipped away at the required total.
Mills slammed a now trademark six and suddenly the game swung back towards Bradninch until with nine runs required, Biss chipped the ball onto his midriff and the ball then dropped onto his stumps to leave Bradninch 146 all out.
Mills was not out 12 and Biss had played his part in scoring three but it was a case of ‘what might have been’ as Bradninch players packed up and made the long trip home.