Bradninch 2nds saw their fading hopes of another Tolchards Devon League promotion all but ended when they lost by five wickets at Topsham St James 1st XI.
As the team made their way home, they were left to contemplate a disappointing outcome from their visit to the Bonfire Field home of the Tops, and probably reflected on the importance of two key things.
The first was how much damage to the team cause was by an injury to Chris Acton which meant although he was able to go on and top score, he was unable to bowl — and the fact that the side did not have the experience and expertise of Will Greig who had been called up by the 1st XI.
On a tough surface at Topsham — a track that made batting tough for everyone, the 18 overs that a fit Acton and Greig would have been able to send down might well have swung the game Bradninch’s way.
Sadly, it was not to be and, with Uplyme & Lyme Regis winning again, Bradninch 2nds find themselves closer to the bottom three than the top three in the E Division East table.
After being put in, Bradninch lost opener Paul Nott in the opening exchanges — caught behind without troubling the scorers and then, the previous week’s centurion, Will Birley was caught off a ball that lifted off the surface and he was out for 13.
Skipper Connor Carthew then fell for one and, with Chris Acton, batting at four, looking untroubled, wickets fell at regular intervals at the opposite end as Ryan Shrewsberry (1), Max Cooper (1) and Nick Acton — bowled by the first delivery he faced — all perished.
Rob Acton joined his brother Chris with the total on 45-6 and the brothers made good progress before an unfortunate run-out left Rob trooping back to the Topsham Rugby Club dressing rooms with nine to his name.
This brought James Mills to the middle and he has already shown, in a mighty impressive first season with the club, that he is a superb new asset to the cause.
He and Chris Acton saw the side into three figures before Mills was given out, caught behind, but not before he had scored 21 from 39 deliveries, hitting three fours.
Chris Acton was the ninth man down — seeing the umpire’s finger raised for a leg-before appeal by the bowler and he trooped off having scored 38 from 78 deliveries with five boundaries.
The last pair, guest player Angus Pedge and Jordan Biss, took the total to 120 when Pedge was out for eight, leaving Biss as the not-out batsman on four.
Skipper Connor Carthew gave the new ball to Mills at one end and Max Cooper at the other and the pair bowled superbly in tandem through the early overs as the home batsmen found for themselves just how difficult batting was on the track!
Mills, who we have already highlighted as being a serious contender for ‘Newcomer of the Year’ sent down his first six overs for just eight runs, bowling 32 dot balls in that time!
Cooper, bowling off a shorter than usual run-up, but with far, far greater accuracy, sent down successive maidens and, with Ryan Shrewsberry holding another fine catch to give Cooper the post tea session’s first wicket, Topsham St James were 10-1 after eight overs!
Rob Acton came on as first change and he helped to keep the pressure on as did second change Nick Acton — it was he who bagged the second wicket thanks to a wonderful catch by ‘safe-hands’ James Mills.
That wicket left the home side on 53-2 after 21 overs, but the appearance at the wicket of Ross Treleaven, who joined Mark Phillips, settled the home team and they lost just two more wickets on their way to a six-wicket win.
Rob Acton got a wicket thanks to yet another Mills’ catch and skipper Connor Carthew also claimed a wicket, as Topsham St James crossed the winning line in the 34th over.
The Bradninch bowling figures were:
James Mills (0-19 in eight) BUT he bowled far better than a wicket less return suggests; Max Cooper (1-23 in eight), Rob Acton (1-34 in eight), Nick Acton (1-21 in six), Will Birley (0-8 in two), Connor Carthew (1-7 from one) and Ryan Shrewsberry (0-8 off four balls).
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