A 60-run home win over Ivybridge keeps the Bradninch 1st XI in the thick of the top four race for the two coveted promotion berths up into the top tier of Tolchards Devon League cricket.
With five games remaining and 100 points to play for, Bradninch sit third, five points behind Budleigh, who they visit on the final day of the season; 20 behind table-topping Cornwood and eight ahead of a Hatherleigh side who are the Kensham Park opposition this coming Saturday (August 3).
The Ivybridge skipper’s decision to field first paid early dividends as both openers, Thom Bunker and Gary Chappell had departed with just 20 runs on the board for five and six runs respectively.
Tim Piper, batting at four, joined Kian Burns and the pair fired their side right into the game — and indeed set up a match-winning score thanks to a 180-run partnership for the third wicket.
Piper was third man down, but not before he had scored a 102-ball six-boundary 68.
That left Bradninch 220-3 and it was soon 209-4 as Burns fell, a single blow away from what would have been a richly deserved century.
Sadly, the talented young batsman was bowled by the 101st delivery he faced having scored 96 with 13 fours and one six.
Ross Acton was the fifth wicket to fall, caught for eight and five runs later it was 223-6 with the loss of Leon Horn for 10.
Indeed, when skipper Eliot Acton was caught and bowled for nine and he was joined back on the side-lines by mark Ashplant, bowled first ball and Josh Farley, bowled fourth ball — Bradninch were 240-9.
However, Will Squire, batting in the number seven berth, provided the late impetus as he hit a 22-ball unbeaten 32 with four boundaries and, with Craig Penberthy unbeaten on two, Bradninch trooped off at the end of their innings with a score of 269-9.
The Ivybridge reply suffered the loss of the first wicket with 29 and the board — Kian Burns holding a catch off Ross Acton and just five runs later it was 34-2 with Josh Farley, introduced as first change, trapping the other bowler leg before.
Like Bradninch, Ivybridge had a solid third-wicket stand to get them back into the contest — though, in their case, when the pair had added 68, young Farley struck again, aided by a Gary Chappell catch to remove the visiting overseas player.
A fourth wicket was snared on 125, glovesman Tim Piper holding the catch off Craig Penberthy and, when Ross Acton bagged his second wicket the ‘Bridgers’ were 173-5.
Acton then claimed a third with a leg before decision to leave the visitors 183-6 and the tail did not wag for too long thereafter as Penberthy claimed three wickets — all to catches held by Chappell, Piper and skipper Acton and, with a Leon Horn throw inspired run-out, the ‘Bridgers’ were all out for 209 in 45.4 overs.
Craig Penberthy had the pick of the bowling returns with figures of 4-53 from 9.4 overs while the Ross Acton return was 3-37 in a full shift of 10 overs and young Josh Farley ended with figures of 2-31.
Now attention turns to match-day 14 and the home game with Hatherleigh.
On the same day first play second at Cornwood and so, at stumps on Saturday, there may be a different look to the top four spots in the A Division table.