Sandiacre Town strolled to an eight wicket win and 22 points at Ilkeston on Saturday but saw their lead at the top of the Derbyshire Premier League cut by five points by nearest rivals Spondon.
It may have been the early moisture that persuaded them to bowl first or the absence of John Jordison’s seamers.
Whatever it was, with hindsight they might have seen Rutland, weakened by competing Bank Holiday pursuits (surfing, barbecuing and pony trekking), as 27 points in the making.
There was certainly little in the wicket to worry batsmen. The rain had slowed it up but with Ryan ‘the Rhino’ McFadyean and the Unicorns’ Dan Wheeldon leading Sandiacre’s attack, that’s not such a bad thing for the batting side.
Rutland, however, were soon in trouble. David Smit, averaging 90 in the league before this match, was given lbw to McFadyean for 12.
Wheeldon then claimed two quick wickets including the other opener Alex Park for 18 and when Ian Banks was caught at point, Rutland were 44 for 4 and a rout looked the likeliest outcome.
Youth came to the rescue in the shape of teenagers Danny Shelton and Luke Marriott. They steadied the ship in a 44-run stand which saw Marriott counter-attacking against the spin of Jono Clare with a big six over square leg.
McFadyean returned to the attack and removed Marriott for 20 and it took another 42-run partnership between the determined Shelton and James Lockhart (20) to spare Rutland’s blushes.
Shelton, who is 16, batted for over two hours and was the eighth wicket to go – caught off an inside edge by keeper Danny Green. He was just one run short of a maiden Premier League 50, a gutsy effort that earned him the umpires’ silver medal.
He also ensured that tea was served on time after Rutland closed on 170 thanks to a late flurry of three sixes from captain Rob Green (26).
After the break it was predictable stuff. Green and Lockhart bowled well but openers James Chapman and John Trueman proved up to the task.
They started with great caution but gradually asserted themselves. Their running between the wickets was as classy as it was infuriating to the fielding side and by the time Jeffrey Dunbar pouched a leading edge from Trueman at mid-on, Sandiacre had purred along to 111 and victory was beyond doubt.
Green did manage to bowl the former Pakistani international Naveed Qureshi for 21 but Chapman, unbeaten on 87, including ten boundaries, brought up an easy win in the 34th over.
It meant Rutland slipped into the relegation zone behind Rolls Royce who managed a plucky losing draw against last season’s winners Lullington Park. The reigning champions are next up for Rutland on Saturday.
Before that they must travel to Matlock for a Premier 20:20 clash after rain washed out Bank Holiday Monday’s fixtures. Sandiacre take on Dunstall in this competition on Sunday afternoon following a home league fixture to bottom club Alfreton.
A very weakened Rutland 2nd XI came away from their Division 4 North trip to fancied Heanor with the lion’s share of the points.
Batting first, they needed their experienced batsmen to come good and Martin Brandrick (31) and Chris Palfreyman (64) obliged.
They still required a handy 24 from Danny Law to reach 185 in their final over.
Chris Trueman Jnr and Palfreyman the bowler then ripped the heart out of Heanor’s top order and once Law and Aidan Smith had chipped in with wickets, the home side were 93 for 8 and staring down the barrel.
Dogged defending by Gary Hickinbotham and Jordan Halford soaked up the last 16 overs to deny Rutland the 27 points.
There was no game for the club’s 3rd XI as they have a double-date this weekend.