Skipper Acton leads from the front with runs and wickets as 2nd XI close in on promotion
With six games of the 2018 Tolchards Devon League F Division East campaign to go, the Bradninch 2nds stand on the threshold of something they have not achieved for many, many, moons!
Missing a number of regulars for a meeting with the only side to have beaten them so far this season in the league – Upottery 2nds – the side managed to exact sweet revenge on the East Devon men, beating them by four wickets in what was ultimately a superbly timed run-chase.
Upottery won the toss and, on another baking hot Saturday at a sun-kissed Kensham Park, batted first. Home skipper Chris Acton opened with Ryan Shrewsberry and Alex Dunlavey and it was ‘The Shrew’ who struck in the third over, skipper Acton holding the catch and, he picked up two more wickets – one to a catch from Connor Carthew and the other a clean bowled – and, with Alex Dunlavey holding an excellent catch in the deep off the skipper’s bowling, Upottery were 61-4 after 13 overs.
The fifth wicket rallied things for the visitors. Indeed, they all but doubled the total before a quick-fire brace for Will Birley – that takes the off-spinner to 19 league wickets for the campaign – left Upottery on 212-6. Those two Birley wickets were both aided by catches. One of them a second from ‘safe hands’ Connor Carthew and the other a stunning ‘Liam Reed-esque’ catch one-handed over his shoulder on the chicken farm boundary by Tom Porter! (For those wondering about the Liam Reed connection – a few years ago Liam took a similar catch in front of the machinery shed – a stunning one too!)
From 120-4, Upottery slipped to 126-8 as skipper Acton, who bowled in three bursts, bagged two more wickets with another fine Dunlavey catch and a third of the game by Carthew.
The tail wagged to get the visitors to 157 before Rob Acton got his first wicket – again aided by a superb Porter catch and Acton returned to end the last pair’s resistance – Liam Reed claiming the side’s ninth catch out of the 10 wickets taken! It all meant Upottery had got themselves to what looked a ’challenging’ total for the home side, who would need 189 to win after tea.
In terms of the bowling honours, skipper Acton with 3-16 from eight, took the honours, but there was also a ‘best to date’ this season for ‘Shrew’ with his 3-27 also from eight. Will Birley (2-33 from five) and Rob Acton (2-43 from 7.5), were the other wicket takers. The others to bowl were Alex Dunlavey (0-44 from six), Liam Reed (0-7 from one) and Chris Dean (0-6 from two).
Paul Nott joined brother-in-law Acton to launch the reply, but Nott fell to a catch behind for a 27-ball three and this brought Will Birley to the wicket to join the skipper with the score 15-1 after seven overs. Birley was second man out, trapped leg before, but not before he had scored a quick-fire 30 with five fours as he and Acton added 43 for the second wicket. Connor Carthew was next in – and out – falling to a 10th delivery duck. Ryan Shrewsberry joined Acton and the pair took the fight to Upottery with ‘Shrew’ putting bat to ball with great effect before Acton holed out for 75 with the total on 158 – the pair adding 81 for the fourth wicket. Tom Porter was next in – and immediately out, stumped to the first ball he received and, when a fine knock from Shrewsberry ended – he fell for a 37 ball 40 – there were still 25 runs needed for victory.
However, the experienced Rob Acton was at one end and he was joined by Alex Dunlavey and the pair saw their side to a four-wicket win with the victory run scored by Dunlavey with nine balls remaining. Acton ended unbeaten on 17 and Dunlavey was not out five.