Title hopes hit but Town reach club final

Marius Conway-Jones took key wickets in both big weekend matches for Sandiacre.
Marius Conway-Jones took key wickets in both big weekend matches for Sandiacre.
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There was joy and despair for Sandiacre at the weekend as their title hopes suffered what could be a fatal blow on Saturday but then reached the final of the ECB National Knockout Cup on Sunday.

Saturday’s defeat at leaders Ockbrook & Borrowash all but assured the hosts will take the Derbyshire Premier League crown, with a 34-point deficit going into the weekend’s final double-header looking too much to overhaul with only 54 points to play for.

A win for Town would have put them in pole position but instead it was the home side’s day.

Put in to bat by Sandiacre skipper Dan Wheeldon, they lost Josh Clarke early on as he edged a Ryan McFadyean delivery behind to the waiting hands of Curtley Read, McFadyean then bowling Alistair Dixon to leave Ockbrook 49-2.

Derbyshire batsman Wes Durston came to the crease and reached a half century before trying to hit Marius Conway-Jones to the boundary and instead finding the hands of Mitch McCann to be out for 55.

John Trueman’s spin would prove a valuable weapon and he removed Corrie Keable with Conway-Jones taking the catch, the latter then bowling Matt Cassar to leave the home side in a degree of difficulty at 127-5.

Jack Ratcliffe steadied the ship with a confident 47 before Trueman again struck and Ockbrook would only manage another 30 runs as Trueman added two more to his tally to end on 4-24, Conway-Jones with 3-43 and McFadyean 3-41 as Ockbrook were all out for 181.

The target was more than reachable but being 8-2 early on proved a crucial blow, Kevin Dean the man to take both McCann and Ollie Swann’s wickets.

James Chapman and Read restored some belief but they both fell to the spin of Clarke Sandiacre were 42-4 and in some trouble.

That became 57-5 when Cook became Clarke’s next victim, although Andy Rhodes’ dynamic 39 helped Sandiacre along before he was caught and bowled by Durston, not long after Trueman had fallen for ten.

No other batsman could reach double figures as Sandiacre collapsed spectacularly from 93-6 to 115 all out, Clarke and Lian Wharton with three wickets each to all but secure title glory.

That meant Sandiacre’s attention could turn to Sunday’s trip to Lancashire for the National Cup semi-final at Chorley, with a place in the final at Lord’s at stake.

Sandiacre won this competition in 2003 but, having been asked to bat by Chorley captain Andrew Holdsworth, things started badly with Trueman bowled by Billy Smith for a duck with the score on just 5-0.

Enter Chapman and Swann who put on a fine partnership of 109 for the second wicket before Swann fell just after completing his half century.

Chapman followed for 61 but Rhodes put in another key innings of 35 to help Sandiacre along to 173-5 before he fell - one of Gaurav Dhar’s five victims.

Another struggle low down the order then followed and Town were eventually all out for 194.

Chorley’s reply also started badly with David Fisher out early on but Holdsworth and Ian Dickinson moved things along before three quick wickets saw the hosts 105-5.

Once Mo Jamal become Rob Cook’s second victim, Conway-Jones’ pace proved too much as he bowled three batsmen in succession, Wheeldon rounding things off in the 43rd over as Chorley were all out for 159.

Sandiacre will now face Surrey side Sunbury CC in the final at Gloucestershire CCC’s County Cricket Ground headquarters in Bristol on Sunday, September 14.