A dramatic last-wicket stand between tailenders Matt Newbold and Kabeer Imtiaz grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat for relieved champions Sandiacre Town.
Chasing 197 to beat Eckington, who finished just below them in third in last season’s Derbyshire County League, Premier Division, Sandiacre looked dead and buried on 151-9.
But Newbold (29no, four fours) and Imtiaz (11no, two fours) proceeded to conjure up an unbeaten partnership worth 47 runs to squeeze their side home by one wicket with 17 balls to spare.
Youngster Imtiaz (2-43 in seven overs) had also taken a couple of wickets with the ball earlier as Sandiacre’s bowlers did a sound job of restructing Eckington to under 200 after they had elected to bat first.
The hosts eased to 74-1 in the hands of Archie Gleadall (38, four fours) and Tom Bullimore (32), but from then on, Sandiacre fought back, despite 55 from Ryan Cartwright, who fired one six and four fours.
The pick of the bowlers was second-change John Jordison, who took 3-24 from an economical ten-over spell, but Dan Wheeldon (3-61 from 15 overs) also claimed three scalps, including the prized ones of Gleadall and Cartwright. There were also two catches and a stumping for wicketkeeper Curtley Read and a couple of catches for Bill Anderson.
Sandiacre’s reply got off to a healthy start as James Chapman (29, four fours), skipper Dan Birch (28, six fours) and Robert Cook (15) eased them to 85-2.
But then they surrendered the initiative in the face of good bowling from Adam Leonard (3-30 in seven overs), Nathan Musselwhite (3-46 in 13 overs) and Matt Sonczak (2-49 in 12 overs).
Wheeldon briefly stopped the rot with 20 and Matt Wright added 11, but seven wickets fell for just 66 runs and it was left to the last pair at the crease to bail the visitors out and steer them to an unlikely win that earned them 27 welcome points.