Sleaford CC make Spa work for first Lincs ECB Premier crown

Charlie Roberts at the crease for Sleaford against title-chasing Woodhall Spa EMN-190209-113746002
Charlie Roberts at the crease for Sleaford against title-chasing Woodhall Spa EMN-190209-113746002

Sleaford CC First XI are set for an end-of-season play-off after completing the Lincs ECB Premier regular season in fourth place.

The Firsts, sponsored by Baker Plant Hire, pushed Woodhall Spa all the way in a rain-affected match before the visitors clinched a two-wicket win to seal the championship.

Woodhall Spa finally get to relax as league champions EMN-190209-113735002

Woodhall Spa finally get to relax as league champions EMN-190209-113735002

Alex King’s ended Woodhall Spa’s quest for a first ECB Premier League championship, and put the finishing touch to what had been a nerve-wracking game for their supporters at London Road.

Twice runners-up in the league, Woodhall went into their last game of the season needing 12 points and looked in a strong position after Sleaford, who had won the toss and batted, were bowled out for 153 in the 46th over.

Wicketkeeper Matt Wing top-scored with 35, while opener Aayush Patel chipped in with 31 and Tom Fairclough made 24.

This gave Woodhall 54 overs to score the runs, but a rain delay revised this target to 143 off 49 overs.

The score had reached 41-2 when prolific runscorer Harsha Vithana came to the crease and was out first ball, trapped lbw by Drew Harbron.

And when the fourth wicket went down on 55, when Dakota Rodgers had Wilson caught by Ben Glendinning, things definitely weren’t going to plan.

Joe Irving and Matt Sergeant calmed the nerves, taking the score to 84 before Irving was out, caught behind by Wing off Angus Youles.

Hopes of a Sleaford win strengthened when Fairclough picked up a wicket of Jack Hughes for a second-ball duck (84-6).

And when Fairclough had Sergeant caught and bowled to reduce Woodhall to 89-7, the championship looked a long way off, as defending champions Bracebridge Heath looked to pounce on any slip-ups.

But Ross Dixon dug in, and with good support from Tom Caswell, gradually reduced the deficit until, with 10 needed for victory, Dixon was caught and bowled by Harbron (4 for 38) for 40.

This left Caswell and Alex King facing a determined Sleaford attack, but the pair brought the score down until four were needed.

King then launched the ball high in the air and as spectators held their breath, it landed well over the boundary to clinch the title.

Sleaford claimed five points which confirmed fourth place in the league and a play-off on Saturday, September 14.

Sleaford: D. Rodgers 12, A. Patel 31, C. Kapugedara 4, B. Glendinning 0, M. Wing 35, A. Hibberd 14, T. Fairclough 24, C. Roberts 1, A. Youles 16, D. Harbron 4, S. Tite 1*, Extras 11. Total: 153.

Woodhall: 145-8 (revised target).

Bowling: S. Tite 3-0-24-0; D. Harbron 12-2-38-4, D. Rodgers 7-0-23-1; A. Youles 8-1-20-1; T. Fairclough 11-2-38-2.