Ilkeston Rutland overcame a test of nerve on Saturday after they chased down a tricky target at Elvaston to keep their promotion prospects alive.
Impressively, it was their younger players who came to the fore, after they found themselves two down in the first over of their reply to the home side’s 203.
David Smit, so often their rock, fell to the second delivery, gloving a short ball from South African pace man David Jacobs up in the air and the luckless Damien Jones was instantly LBW.
Jacobs continued to cause the batsmen problems with his speed. Luke Marriott survived a chance to slip before Kevin Leatherday (19) was snaffled as he drove at a wide one.
Rutland needed partnerships but just as they began to flourish another wicket would fall.
Rob Green’s breezy 24 ended when he was caught at mid-on to give Jacobs his fourth wicket.
A 50stand between Marriott and Ian Banks (22) was terminated by a bad call which left Banks stranded and Danny Shelton was unluckily judged caught down the leg-side.
At 150-6 the game was in the balance but another 40 run partnership between Marriott and Aidan Smith (23) made it almost safe.
Both fell with the winning line in sight, vice-captain Marriott for a match-winning 85, and it was Danny Bobeszko who hit the winning boundary off a now tiring Jacobs.
Earlier in the day, Rutland’s bowlers had held Elvaston in check after they’d decided to bat first.
Openers Elliott Lawley (21) and Mitch Bradley (37) provided a steady start and they threatened a truly challenging total as they approached the last ten overs at 150-3.
Smith changed the game with a double-wicket over removing skipper Nick Briars for 55 and Jake Harrold to a first ball LBW.
Chris Trueman Jnr then had Andrew Heathfield (42) well caught in the deep by Leatherday. Trueman then ran through the tail with some canny death bowling to return figures of 5 for 65.
The weekend could have been even better for Rutland but their league fixture with Alfreton, which had been re-arranged from the last Sunday of the season, was washed out meaning they gained only six points and remain in third spot in Division One.
For the second time this season, Ilkeston Rutland’s 2nd XI got a winning draw against high-flying Alvaston & Boulton, meaning they have recorded positive results from all their encounters with Division Six South’s runaway leaders.
Put in to bat on a bouncy wicket, Rutland began steadily with Ross Slater making 41 before a cluster of wickets and one retired hurt brought Ryan Clarke and Adam Slater together at 96-3.
Their unbroken stand of 112 took Rutland to a decent score of 208-3 with Clarke making 56 and Slater 69.
Early pressure from Chris Trueman Snr and the impressive Kieran York put Alvaston &Boulton well behind the run rate and they closed on 190-5, gaining nine points to Rutland’s 15.
Rutland’s 3rd XI, struggling in Division Nine North’s relegation zone since the start of the season, really needed a win against mid-table Spondon to turn their prospects around.
It was not to be. Despite scores of 29 and 32 from Grant Robertson and Shafqat Amin they were bowled out for 125 and lost comfortably by seven wickets.