Bradninch moved ever closer to the top spot in the Tolchards Devon League Premier Division after a three-wicket win in a low-scoring affair at Heathcoat coupled with news of a second defeat of the season for leaders Bovey Tracey – beaten at second in the table Exmouth.
There were stand-out individual heroics in a hard-earned victory at Knightshayes.
The home side were inserted by Ninch skipper Gary Chappell and promptly bundled out for 135 in just 34.4 overs. Indeed such was the tough time for batsmen on the day that the final total needed boosting by some 29 extras!
Matt Foster and Ross Acton opened the bowling and both struck early to reduce the hosts to 4-2. With regular glovesman Tim Piper one of a number of absentees, Charlie Walker volunteered for the job behind the stumps. Taking the gloves for the first time since his school days! ‘Walks’ let no one down, indeed he took two smart diving catches – both of the Ross Acton bowling.
Gary Chappell and Ross Acton both bagged four wicket hauls – Acton’s coming from 9.4 overs – two of which were maidens – for 46 runs. The skipper’s ‘fourfer’ came from a full shift of a 10 overs, half of which were sent down as maidens and he finished with figures of 4-31.
The other wicket-takers were Matt Foster (1-28 from nine) and Chris Acton ( 1-8 from five). The other bowler used was Will Squire who sent down one over (0-10).
The Bradninch reply was led, as usual, by the skipper and Rory Thomas and the latter was first to go, trapped leg before for a run-a-ball three-boundary (one six and two fours) 17 with the total then 25-1.
Chappell was next to go, in his case for a 50-ball two-boundary 20 with the score then 66-2.
It was Matt Foster who top-scored in the successful chase – he was third out having faced 72 balls and hit five boundaries in a knock of 37.
When the Aussie all-rounder was dismissed the reply was on 82-3. Charlie Walker fell next, caught behind for two to leave the chase on 82-4 and it was soon 108-5 with the loss of Ross Acton for a 34-ball knock of 16.
Joe Webb was in at six, but he saw Will Greig depart without troubling the scorers to leave Ninch and, when Webb was seventh man down with 119 on the score board – in his case out for 18, Ninch still had work to do.
However, Thom Bunker stepped to the fore to score a run-a-ball three-boundary 15 and, with debutant Richie Wilkinson as his partner, scoring four from two deliveries, Ninch got home with three wickets and 10 overs to spare.
The halfway mark in the season has been reached with Ninch sitting third, six points shy of second placed Exmouth and now just 17 shy of leaders Bovey Tracey.
In the second half of the season – which starts next week with the Kensham Park visit of fifth placed Torquay – (the visitors will start the game16 points adrift of Ninch), Chaps and his men must travel to both the two teams above them in the table – can a promoted side mount a title challenge? Based on the first half of the campaign they certainly can!