Sandiacre Town faced arguably their strongest test of the season so far with a trip to Chesterfield on Saturday - and won once again to go 22 points clear at the top of the Derbyshire Premier League.
Although the Queens Park side haven’t perhaps started as well as they’d like, the 2008 league winners will still be aiming for top four finish.
While Sandiacre were only missing the services of Chesney Hughes, Chesterfield had to do without Matt Fletcher, Wes Durston and the injured bowling duo of Matt Higginbottom and former New Zealand international Iain O’Brien.
Rob Attwood won the toss and put Chesterfield into bat, and after Ben Slater drove Ryan McFadyean through cover-point, uppishly in the first over, Jamie Pipe then sold him down the river.
Slater perhaps appeared to make his ground and was in disbelief as Tom Munroe raised his finger. It wasn’t the only contentious decision the umpires were to make though.
Pipe then took Dan Wheeldon’s first over for 16, including six over square-leg and fours crashed through the covers. But his attacking nature proved to be his downfall as he wafted at a wide delivery from McFadyean, edging behind. His 19 came off 13 balls and left Chesterfield 25 for 2.
The hopes of Chesterfield posting a competitive total rested on the skipper Alex Hibbert and the experienced Simon Lacey. The batsmen got value for money for their shots as anything through the ring raced away over a quick outfield.
But Hibbert was the next to depart, tickling McFadyean down the leg-side.
Joe Cooper came and went edging Wheeldon to second slip, but Lacey was the wicket Sandiacre needed. He survived a huge LBW shout when John Jordison was brought into the attack and had moved onto 24 when he too chased a wider delivery, this time from Wheeldon, and managed only to inside edge a catch to Danny Green, his third of the innings.
That was 83 for 5 and it soon became 92 for 7 as Chris Marples managed only a single before being trapped in front by Jordison and Drage Thompson skied a catch to cover off the same bowler.
Chesterfield were in desperate need of a late flurry, something to give their bowlers a chance of defending.
Tim Kirk played some lovely straight drives as he marshalled the tail, and Brian Gladwin decided attack was the best form of defence as he crashed three boundaries to take the score to 118 before he was bowled by Wheeldon.
Michael Deane faired even better, striking six fours in his 25 from 15, but tried his luck once too often eventually finding the safe hands of Matt Gouldstone running in from long-on to give Jordison his third wicket.
Paul Goodwin was bowled by the returning McFadyean leaving Kirk unbeaten on 22 as Chesterfield were all out for 158.
Sandiacre’s reply was far from straightforward.
Deane had James Chapman and Matt Gouldstone LBW to dubious looking decisions either side of Naveed Queshi chipping to Lacey in the covers.
Sandiacre, John Trueman in particular, were still scoring at a good rate. Goodwin was struggling and it was a surprise to see bowl as many overs as he did, his 8 costing 48 runs.
David Jordison soon became Deane’s fourth wicket, edging behind to leave Sandiacre 98-4.
And Deane nearly had a fifth with a strong LBW appeal against Trueman. Where Chapman and Goulstone can consider themselves unfortunate, Trueman perhaps had got away with one.
Attwood came in at six, short of time at the crease but played nicely, taking his side to the brink of victory with 22 from 32 balls before he too seemed unhappy when given out caught down the leg-side off the spin of Gladwin.
It was then left to John Jordison’s three boundaries to take Sandiacre to victory, Trueman finishing unbeaten on 67 as Sandiacre won by fivewickets.
There remain sterner tests for Sandiacre this season, perhaps from a stronger Chesterfield side themselves in the return fixture.
Sandiacre’s seconds were given the run-around by Aston on Trent.
The bowlers were all given the treatment as Aston amassed an incredible 346-5 from their 46 overs.
Anser Ali’s 65 from 81 was dwarfed by Azhar Mahmoods 106 from 78 deliveries, who in turn was eclipsed by Nasir Khan’s 105 from just 33 balls. His phenomenal innings contained ten fours and ten sixes.
Khan then had Sandiacre in trouble with two early wickets to leave the hosts 5-2, but Ally Leek continued his good start to the year with a defiant 55 before he became Khan’s third of four wickets.
Sandiacre held firm though, finishing 140-8.
There were no such problems for the third XI who recorded their seventh straight win in the league beating Chesterfield Barbarians by seven wickets.
Only three Barbarians made it to double figures, Sam Lawson (86*), Craig Bradbury (43) and Martin Wagstaff (23) as they were all out for 190.
Paul Standring and George Domleo did the damage with 3-30 and 4-47 respectively.
The total posed few problems for Sandiacre who knocked them off inside 37 overs.
Neil MacNamee made 79, John Murfin 48 and Rich Burne an unbeaten 30 as Sandiacre continued their impressive start to the season.