Sleaford CC First XI’s epic fightback fell agonisingly short in a narrow defeat at title rivals Bracebridge Heath on Saturday.
The game looked up when third-placed Sleaford were bowled out for just 93 at Lincs ECB Premier leaders.
But the visitors looked set to pull off an unlikely victory when their attack reduced Heath to 63-8, but late order runs edged the hosts to a two-wicket win.
On winning the toss, Baker Plant Hire-sponsored Sleaford batted, but had soon lost both openers when Alex Willerton removed Ross Diver for six and then had Shorthouse caught by Joseph Price for 0 with the score on 7-2.
Matt Mountain was Willerton’s next victim for 0 with the score on a lowly 15, and Charlie Roberts then became the Lincolnshire county bowler’s fourth victim, again for 0, leaving Sleaford on 15-4.
Andy Hibberd and Oliver Burford staged a recovery of sorts as they moved the score to 43 when Burford was caught by Carter, off Price, for 20.
Hibberd fell to Price (4 for 24) for 21, but New Zealander Ian McPeake continued to play positively without consistent support as Sreedharan went for five, and Andrew Jones for two.
McPeake took his score to a valuable 29 before he was bowled by the returning Willerton (5 for 24), leaving Sleaford all out for 93 in just 30.1 overs.
In reply, Sleaford made a blistering start when Vikram Atri went to Ian McPeake for 0 before fellow opener Carl Stubbs (9) was caught Shorthouse, bowled McPeake.
Houston fell to Andrew Jones for two and 24-3 then became 24-4 when McPeake claimed another victim as the expected run fest had turned into an intriguing low-scoring game.
Price was McPeake’s next victim, leaving Bracebridge 29-5, but James Kimber and Stuart Fraser–Cattanach set about gaining the upper hand.
They moved the score to 50 when Kimber was caught Roberts, bowled Shorthouse for 13.
Andy Carter (0) and Willerton (11) both fell to Adi Sreedharan as the hosts slumped to 63-8.
But then came the vital partnership between Fraser-Cattanach (30 not out) and Alex Moor (12 not out) as they saw the leaders home in the 33rd over.
McPeake took 3 for 31 in 12 overs, Sreedharan 2 for 19, and Jones 1 for 4 in seven miserly overs including five maidens.
Bracebridge took 20 points from the hotly-contested game, while Sleaford claimed three to slip 45 points adrift of top spot.
On Saturday, the First XI entertain Woodhall Spa at London Road from noon.