Lucky Nutbrook held on by the skin of their teeth for a weather-affected draw after playing second fiddle to relegation-threatened Alfreton in Division One of the Derbyshire County League.
A five-wicket haul for Mo Ikram helped The Brook dismiss the hosts for 203. But in reply, they were hanging on at 159-9 when stumps had to be drawn at the end of the 45th over.
Skipper Steve ‘Sandy’ Sanderson asked Alfreton to bat first on winning the toss, and it looked a good decision when Harry Thoman bowled their overseas player, Matt Gapes, for just six in the fifth over.
Thoman (3-35 in 7.4 overs) continued to prove effective and also tempted a leading edge out of Tom Pawelski, who was caught at mid-off by Sanderson for 14.
However, Alfreton fought back, courtesy of a third-wicket stand of 43 between stubborn anchorman Jonathan Woolley, who batted 83 balls for 18, and top scorer Elliot Savidge, who made 46 (six fours).
The stand was finally broken when Richard Henshaw bowled Woolley, but Nutbrook only really regained the initiative when spinner Ikram was introduced into the attack as fourth change. He not only removed Savidge but also had home skipper John Aspinall caught by Thoman for 24 (one six and foutrurs) just when he was beginning to look dangerous.
That left Alfreton on 148-6 and, from there, wickets tumbled at regular intervals, with Thoman taking two more catches and Ikram ending with figures of 5-53 from 11 overs. However, a defiant 31 from Nick Clarke, plus an alarming surfeit of 31 wides, enabled the home team to go past the 200-mark.
With regular opener Michael Chambers missing, Nutbrook opened their reply in the hands of Henshaw and Ikram, who put on 36 before the former was bowled by Savidge for 14.
Ikram followed soon afterwards for 15 and despite 26 (four fours) from Adam Barrett, the visitors could never find any rhythm. They lacked a big score and a big stand and soon slid to 59-4 and 86-6, making it clear their backs were against the wall.
Spinner Ben Slater ripped through The Brook’s middle order, taking 3-41 from 13 overs, and then new-ball bowler Gapes returned to the fray to pick up 3-40 from 12 overs.
In response, Kashif Hussain decided that attack was the best form of defence, hammering a six and five fours in a breezy 22-ball knock of 27. But when he was eighth man out on 143 in the 35th over, his teammates feared the worst.
Thankfully, the last three in the order, Matt Wakefield, Harry Duckles and Andy Farmer, were able to bat out and deny Alfreton the outright victory their relegation struggles needed. Ineed, in the end, the hosts collected only one point more than Nutbrook (14 to 13).
Sanderson’s troops know they must improve this weekend because they entertain top-of-the-table Dunstall, who are odds-on favourites to land the title and promotion to the top flight.
IN Division Six North, Nutbrook 2nd eased to a crucial ten-wicket success at home to fellow strugglers Ashover 2nd, who were skittled for just 120 thanks to 4-36 by skipper Ben Dawes, 3-22 by Ben Gretton and 3-25 by Mark Witham. It took them only 18 overs to race to their target as Dan Brooks bashed an explosive 92no.
IT WAS a similar story for Nutbrook 3rd, who whipped out Staveley Welfare 2nd for just 86 before cantering home by nine wickets to keep alive their hopes of promotion from Division Ten North. James Taylor took 4-16 with the ball before Victor Hartshorne hit 43 and Luke Cox an unbeaten 30 with the bat.