Ilkeston Rutland captain David Smit struck his third century in four innings on Saturday but what should have been a match-winning effort was thwarted by a late burst of rain.
At that stage Rutland were pushing for victory at Cutthorpe with the hosts eight down and 12 overs still to be bowled.
Of Smit’s four centuries this season, this was arguably the finest. It was chanceless, the pitch was doing a bit and a look around his own dressing room wouldn’t have inspired him with confidence.
The demands of trying to keep the second XI afloat combined with holidays, injuries and a club wedding meant they had travelled with just ten players - six from the first team and four from the third XI.
No wonder in-form Cutthorpe put them in to bat hoping for a quick kill. Smit was having none of that and his 104 contained 13 boundaries and a six.
While the other batsmen struggled against the seam of Asadullah Butt whose 5 for 40 took him to 30 wickets for the season, Smit gave nothing away.
He and Rob Green (51) held the innings together with a century-plus stand for the third wicket and though Rutland would collapse all out following their respective dismissals, 209 had been posted.
Cutthorpe were soon struggling against the seam of Chris Trueman Jnr. He was doing just enough with the ball to cause real problems and completed his first five-wicket haul in Division One - three of them caught in the slips by Smit.
Although Green went wicketless, the back-up bowling of Michael Chambers and Jeff Dunbar claimed three more victims and Rutland were poised for the 27 points when the rains came in to save Cutthorpe who were 144 for 8.
The match was abandoned with the home side taking 12 points to Rutland’s 14.
Much was at stake at the Rec where Alfreton’s 2nd XI came seeking promotion from a Rutland second string desperate to avoid relegation.
Rutland won the toss and put Alfreton in to bat. This has been a season-long tactic yet their highest successful chase stands at 92 and that was achieved from a precarious 52 for 7.
Nevertheless, the decision appeared to be a good one when some fine opening bowling from Joe Bird (2 for 35) and Aidan Smith (3 for 35) reduced Alfreton to 24 for 5.
The match was turned on its head by Rob Swallow. Alfreton’s leading all-rounder and perhaps their best batsman, he had been left at number six to marshall the lower order in the event of trouble.
This he did brilliantly, putting on 72 for the sixth wicket with Ashley Holland (44) and further 34 with Joe Noonan (20).
The introduction of Richard Siddons to the attack broke the partnerships and he mopped up the tail but his 5 for 24 couldn’t prevent Alfreton reaching 134. For Rutland, keeper Vic Pilbeam held six catches, four of them off Siddons’ flat spinners, and conceded not a single bye.
Rutland’s side had been packed with batting potential but only Ryan Clarke showed any. He hit 41 but it was a one man show and when he was judged LBW, Rutland found themselves 62 for 5 and in desperate need of some lower-order resilience.
Incredibly, the scorebook reads 64 all out as the rest of the side, all capable of wielding a willow, added just two more between them.
The result sent Alfreton into the fourth tier for next year while Rutland need two wins, also known as a miracle, to avoid Division Six in 2015.
It was billed as the winner takes all local derby to determine who should be promoted from Division Nine North but neither Stanton Elks 2nd XI nor Rutland’s 3rd XI ended the weekend happy.
Stanton won on the day, blowing Rutland away for just 55 thanks to some fine bowling from young Franklin Henshaw (4 for 17).
It set up an easy nine wicket win and ended Rutland’s hopes of promotion but 24 hours later all they had was the local spoils.
Their own promotion chances disappeared when they were thrashed by champions-elect Eckington on Sunday in their final fixture, leaving Holmewood poised to leap frog them on the last weekend.