A dramatic cup win by the smallest of margins has given both hope and focus to Ilkeston Rutland 1st XI’s stalling season.
The one-wicket victory at Matlock put them into the quarter-finals of the Marston’s Smooth Trophy and, with several top sides crashing out, handed them their best chance of silverware since 2010.
Rutland won the toss and asked Matlock to bat on a soft wicket which made strokeplay difficult.
The home side started positively with Kevin Leatherday (21) hitting Rob Green for six before he flicked at Ian Banks and was snaffled at mid-wicket by Aidan Smith.
The loss of their best batsman sent Matlock into their shell. The bowlers polished their economy rates and, in the next 32 overs, Matlock managed just 64 runs.
Danny Bobeszko’s ten overs of off breaks cost just 18 runs and Smith’s first seven overs conceded only ten.
Matlock were 95 for 5 with ten to go but a sudden gear change saw them close on an unlikely 184 for 7.
Rob Lowe (38 off 28) and Dave Lander (23 off 12) launched the assault and their victim was Green. The big left armer, a model of economy all season long, saw his final four overs disappear for 50.
A heavy shower during the tea interval reduced Rutland’s target to 155 from 42 overs but this looked like a distant dream as four wickets fell for 24.
Captain Dave Smit had held himself back and joined Darren Cundy, whose poor form had seen him left out of the previous day’s league fixture.
Together, they put on 66 and had brought the target down to 55 from 13 overs when a triple blow seemed to all but end the contest.
First, an attempt by Smit (24) to pull Lander’s spin for a flat six ended with a boundary catch. The next ball, Green was given LBW and in the following over, Cundy, who had mixed big hitting (three sixes) with solid defence and had just brought up his 50, was beaten by one that kept low and LBW.
Rutland were reeling again at 97 for 7 only to be saved by that old blend of youth and experience. Banks was the older head, taking singles to keep the score ticking, while Smith provided the momentum.
With 20 required from four overs, Banks (16) became a fourth LBW casualty but the over ended with Smith clearing the boundary.
His new partner Bobeszko then hit a six of his own only for Smith (32) to become the ninth wicket to fall as he tried to hit the winning runs.
With the scores level, Matlock would have won with a wicket but Bobeszko tucked one off his hip and number 11 Jeff Dunbar completed the single to win the match.
The successful chase was all the more unlikely given the two games the preceded the Cup.
Last Tuesday night, Rutland exited the Jackson Cup after failing to chase down a moderate 102 for 6 set by Denby.
This was a spartan version of 20:20 cricket – only four boundaries in all of the 40 overs and the light an issue throughout Rutland’s chase.
Denby had struggled to up their tempo and only Michael Mitchell with 41 not out from 45 balls lifted them over the 100 mark.
For Rutland the most economical bowlers were Chris Trueman Snr with 1 for 12 and Aidan Smith’s 1 for 14.
Denby’s overseas keeper Bradley Davis then caught Smit in the first over and added to that with four further dismissals – three stumped.
For a while, Banks (23) and Green (19) looked to have the chase in hand but both fell and in murky light, Rutland closed on 83 for 9.
That they played at all on Saturday was something of a miracle but having got a 25 over game underway at Stainsby Hall and having won the toss, they will be furious at not winning it.
Rutland’s performance in the field was excellent with Michael Chambers the star with three run outs. Sam Moulds collected 4 for 40 as Stainsby were dismissed for 128.
The chase soon became a survival course after six wickets fell for 60 runs with only Chambers (29) and Danny Shelton (19) lifting the visitors’ hopes.
They ended up clinging on to a nine-point losing draw at 103 for 9 after Matthew Smyth had cut through their lower order with 6 for 16.
Both the 2nd XI and 3rd XI league fixtures were cancelled due to the heavy rain as was the 2nd XI’s second round tie in the Butterley Cup against Allestree.
The 1st XI have no fixture this weekend due to Ilkeston Carnival taking place on the Rec.