Honiton all set for great run- in to season says Matravers

PUBLISHED: 15:19 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:05 15 June 2010

Axminster claimed a vital win in their bid to gain B Division promotion with a seven wicket success at Bideford.

Axminster claimed a vital win in their bid to gain B Division promotion with a seven wicket success at Bideford.

The home side looked set for a decent total with James Ford and Matt Allin in charge but Johnny Hurford's introduction into the attack paid instant dividends as he trapped Ford lbw and then young Joel Seward took a fine catch off the bowling of Nick Taylor to see the end of Allin. From that point onwards, the bowlers remained in charge, eventually bowling the hosts out for 171. Taylor, Hurford and Gary Larcombe each finished with three wickets and then Brett Garner marked his long awaited return to the side from injury with 36, young Seward hit 23 and Robbie Prior led the side home with an unbeaten half century.

Axminster won the game on 175-3 leaving delighted skipper Danny Larcombe to say: "That was just about the perfect performance. They started well but once we got the top two out the bowlers stayed in charge and then we knocked the runs off with relative ease."

As for next Saturday's game at Knightshayes with hosts Heathcoat occupying the second promotion berth, Larcombe recognises its significance: "From here on every game is huge for us as we bid for promotion but this next one is massive. If we are to maintain a serious bid we simply must take something tangible from Saturday's trip to Mid Devon."

Seaton's bid for promotion at the first time of asking out of C Division took a major blow as they slumped to defeat at Chagford.

Skipper Mike Wheeler refused to 'hide' behind the relevant 'excuse' that losing the toss was probably the deciding factor on the day. He said: "Yes, losing the toss made it difficult but I cannot allow that to mask a totally inept batting display. We were woefully short of anything like the required standard in terms of application. Okay, damp wickets are tough to play on but we simply did not apply ourselves."

The skipper continued: "After the game I pulled no punches and told the lads that any side who stand 50 without loss and than capitulate for 130 do not deserve to win a cricket match. That happened to us and we got our just dessert."

It makes this weekend's game with Babbacombe a huge fixture and it's one that Wheeler says of: "I am going to apply the basic of law of averages and they say that we cannot possibly serve up such a poor performance in a second successive game. I shall be challenging the players before the start of Saturday's game to ensure that they show some form of suitable response to what was simply a very bad day at the office against Chagford."

Feniton's promotion charge hit the buffers as they lost on their travels, beaten by five wickets at Stoke Gabriel. Graham Tucker (20) and Jonathan Pyle (24no) were the only Feniton batsmen to emerge with anything like a decent score in a total of 119, one passed by the hosts for the loss of five wickets. On Saturday, Feniton should have skipper Mark Kingdom back from work in the Channel Islands when they play host to Ivybridge. Going into the game 21 points and four places below the side currently second, Kingsbridge, it's a game that Kingdom's men need to win.

Kilmington were involved in a thrilling game against visiting Ivybridge, with the match being won by the hosts' last two batsmen at the crease! Ben Noble was the pick of the home bowlers, his 3-22 from 13 superb overs helping reduce Ivybridge to 141-8. Tristan Wakeley (2-35) and Tom Wallis (2-18) also picked up wickets and then Wallis and Noble were the last men standing for their side to see them to a single wicket win, closing on 142-9. Rory Hellier hit the villager's top score of 34 and it was a late knock from Hal Cook (20) that also helped in the run chase, one that at 51-5 looked forlorn before Hellier and Cook took charge.

A delighted skipper Ian Gooding said: "That was a brilliant game of cricket, the sort of contest all players want to be involved in. The outcome was in the balance right until the close of play."

Ottery St Mary had started the day looking over their shoulders in D Division with concerns about their status but they are upwardly mobile now after a six wicket win over Hatherleigh in which three players dominated the proceedings. Rob Johns picked up 4-35 in 13 splendid overs as the visiting side closed on 210-7 and then, after Sam Tennent had again chalked up a half century, Robert Bradshaw-Smith stroked his way to an unbeaten 72 and the Otters claimed a six-wicket win.

Uplyme & Lyme Regis got a shock in their home meeting with Lewdown. The visitors arrived in East Devon with just a single win in their 10 outings to date and, with Ashley Caddy's side starting the game just 15 points shy of the summit, home hopes were understandably high, but the visitors' Adi Clements grabbed a 'fivefer' and his figures of 5-29 helped reduce the home side to 155-9, a total that would have been a lot less but for knocks of 41 from Tim Daniel and 20 from Ben Whittington.

At 46-6, thanks to some fine bowling from Steve Batey (4-38) and skipper Ashley Caddy (2-46), the reply was in trouble but then number eight batsmen Phil Yeo came to the wicket and plundered an unbeaten 57 to severely dent any promotion aspirations of the hosts.

Whimple got to within a dozen runs of the Dawlish total in a close encounter. On a damp wicket that always favoured the bowler, Dawlish batted first and laboured to 144. Phil Hope was the pick of the home bowlers with 4-34. In the run chase, Whimple were in total control of the game at 124-3, but then the wheels came off and at the close the home side were left on 132-8. Mike Searle and Ben Silk both hit scores of 39 for Whimple, whose skipper Simon Van Grudgings said: "Credit where it is due, they bowled themselves right back into the contest with some fine deliveries.

"It was a difficult afternoon for batsmen on a damp wicket but they cleverly took the pace off the ball and grabbed wickets at key times. It was a good game of cricket."

Woodbury slipped to defeat at Halberton where they went down by three wickets in yet another game that was dominated by the damp conditions and the pre-match toss of the coin. After being asked to bat, Woodbury found it hard going and were bowled out for 137. Their bowlers battled back, led by Neil Richards with 3-47, but the home side prevailed and won the contest by three wickets.

Honiton began the day two places and four points above visiting Woodland Fort and, after winning the toss, and the match - both before 4.30pm - they extended the margin between the sides by a further 19 points!

Skipper Pete Matravers was not playing although he was present to see much of the contest. The Mountbatten Park side skipper was presented with a bouncing baby son by his wife Caroline in midweek. Matthew Edward Matravers said hello to the world at 9lbs 13ozs, leaving a delighted father to say: "The size of the young man suggests he'll be able to swing the bat to great effect when he is older!"

As for the action, one man dominated proceedings. Phil Tansley sent down 13 overs, eight of which were maidens, and, at the end of his spell, he had dismissed seven of the visitors for the princely sum of 10 runs! The visitors were bundled out for just 71 inside 27 overs and then Tansley hit an unbeaten 23 in support of a knock of 34 from Andy Canniford and Honiton picked up a much needed haul of points.

"We have set ourselves up well for what remains of the season and, with plenty of cricket to play, I see no reason why we cannot raise the expectation level at Mountbatten Park," said Matravers, and with Tansley in such form only a fool would bet against them right now!

Upottery continued on their merry way to the G Division title with a 164 run win over Newton St Cyres in a game that saw home skipper Stuart 'Willow' Drew star with bat and ball. Mark Tucker (63) and Seamus Machin (42) became the supporting acts to Drew's powerful innings of 67 not out as Upottery closed on a whopping 278-9. Drew took 3-12 as he and Nigel Wyatt (3-10) combined to bowl out the Mid Devon visitors for 114.

Yarcombe and Stockland can do no more than match leaders Upottery and this they did, beating Shaldon by three wickets in yet another contest that was determined by the toss of a coin. Nigel Parris called correctly, put the opposition in to bat and then saw his bowlers share the wicket taking honours as the visitors were hustled out for 72. Richard Reed (3-7), Sam Loud (2-8), Rex Helston (2-9) and Matthew Barnacle (2-27) took wickets and then, as batsmen came and went around him, skipper Parris stayed put and led his side to a three-wicket win with a knock of 15 not out that proved to be his side's biggest individual contribution! Jay Parris said: "I knew that if I could stick around and be there at the close then we would win the game, and so it was."

Topsham St James picked up a win and they remain in contention for one of the two promotion berths in the section. It was a case of a combination of experience and youth that saw visitors Chardstock humbled from 70-2 to 92 all out. Dave Vranch, not for the first time, claimed a 'fivefer', closing with figures of 5-20, whilst young Alec Bosomworth added to his growing number of senior wickets with 3-6 and then Kalsik Sankara top scored with 33 as the home side got home with six wickets to spare.

By Stephen Birley

Devon Cricket League round-up

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