SANDIACRE Town missed the chance to seriously close the gap on leaders Ockbrook & Borrowash as they were held to a winning draw at Alfreton on Saturday.
Their fellow title challengers achieved a similar result at home to Alvaston & Boulton, but with Sandiacre only having earned one point more the gap at the top is now 27 points.
Sandiacre were frustrated by Alfreton having built up a reasonable total in batting first, with opener James Chapman the star of the show.
He hit an excellent century, including 14 boundaries, before finally caught by Graham Bush off the bowling of Alex Mace for 104.
After fellow opener David Jordison was out for a duck with the score on 10, Chapman then enjoyed an excellent partnership of 171 with Matt Gouldstone before the latter fell for 61, also caught by Bush but off the bowling of Adam Burton, who was Alfreton’s top bowler with figures of 3 for 79.
Naveed Qureshi was run out by Mace for 11, and after Chapman was next to fall, skipper Rob Attwood and Ryan McFadyean caught the eye with innings of 26 and 32 respectively as Sandiacre saw out their 50 overs with a score of 267-6.
Alfreton began their reply well with only Mace (24) and Bush (3) falling before the score had reached 158.
But four wickets in quick succession suddenly saw 158-2 become 161-6, the first of those to fall being Andy Gwatkin who had clouted his way to 76 and was comfortably Alfreton’s best batsman.
But the remainder of the order managed to keep things together, including Burton whose useful 18 helped them on their way, and the hosts were able to complete their 50 overs with just one wicket remaining and the score on 205.
Sandiacre claimed 19 points from the winning draw, meaning the home clash with the league leaders on September 10 continues to earn even greater significance as the weeks go by.
The second XI hosted Denby and also found themselves coming away with a winning draw.
They too enjoyed a good innings with the bat, making 279-8 in their 46 overs.
That included an opening stand of 86 between Praveen Chandran (27) and Neil MacNamee (43), before number three Ben Ruhrmund entered the fray and notched a fine half century before becoming one of Phil Glenn’s four victims with the score on 206.
MacNamee had hammered his way to 43, including eight fours, before he was caught and bowled by Glenn, while lower down the order there were useful knocks from Gareth Goodall (29), Jono Clare (23) and Neil Smith (28 not out) as Sandiacre finished with a very competitive total.
Denby were always going to be content with a draw, particularly after at one point being 49-4 with the top four batsmen all having departed cheaply.
But Mark Payne was the man to steady the ship as his innings of 62 helped see Denby through to 133 before he was out lbw to Ruhrmund.
Rob Peat and Glenn were next to frustrate the hosts as they hit unbeaten scores of 39 and 25 respectively to see out the innings at 183-5 and secure a share of the points.
And it was winning draws all round as Sandiacre’s third XI repeated the feat against Stainsby Hall.
They too were frustrated by the opposition having registered a competive total.
Chris Attwood was Town’s stand-out performer as he hit 105 before being caught by Connor Bostock off Karl Neville, who took three of Stainsby’s four wickets.
Richard Burne added 75 before being run out, as Sandiacre posted 267-4 from their 45 overs.
But Stainsby Hall were able to stand firm and claim the draw.
Bostock was their top scorer with 23, and despite three wickets for George Domleo Sandiacre were left unable to bowl their opponents out as the visitors ended 106-7.