THERE was a welcome first win in four games for Willoughby as they enjoyed a 34-run victory away on the picturesque village green at Evenley in the South Northants League Division One.
Having lost the toss and with a wet wicket and rain in the air, the visitors were predictably asked to bat first with the two Ians – Andrews and Hughes, opened proceedings and suffered an early casualty with the former cutting a short ball to point in only the second over to leave Willoughby 1 for 1.
Ashley Rayner joined proceedings and the run rate became healthy after some lofty blows from Hughes, which then saw a double change was made. A total of 16 runs were taken off Linford’s first over and with the score at 50 for 1 after ten overs gone all looked rosey.
However Hughes then fell for 47 with the score on 69 for 2 and as the hosts began to tighten their bowling Willoughby lost three wickets with the top order of Alcock, Stevenson and Rayner (26) departing.
Only Graham Hallam with 26 with late support from Nick Crane then offered anything more as Willoughby limped to 143 all out. Two batting points secured but a feeling of what might had been given the start.
After feasting at tea in the pub across from the village green, Crane and Simon Nicholls started well for the visitors attack and carried on that way for the next 20 overs.
Aided by good ground fielding by the team, the hosts found themselves five wickets down with less than 50 on the board at the halfway point, and seemingly out of the game. Crane’s fine 10 over spell yielding 3 for 18, Nicholls 2 for 26.
Tom Stevenson came on after drinks and took their last remaining recognised batsmen in his first over and together with Rayner kept things tight. Stevenson’s seven overs returned 1 for 15 – another great showing from the youngster whose bowling has significantly improved this term, Rayner taking 3 for 39 and Alcock 1 for 14 finishing things off as the lower order home batsmen swung the bat to get the visitors into three figures.
The win and some much needed points lifts Willoughby up the league, although third from bottom to fourth is a quite a jump in a week and emphasises again how close the division is this season.