NORTON Lindsey & Wolverton’s first team celebrated a good win to confirm their place in the Cotwold Hills League Premier Division, while the Second set themselves up for a chance to become Division Two Champions.
At Wolverton Road, the visitors were Tanworth & Camp Hill, desperate for points to avoid relegation.
Their afternoon started on the back foot when they lost the toss, and Norton skipper Richard Pozzi decided to bat.
Gavin Shephard (54) made a good start, but the openers were separated when Sunny Nijjar (6) was trapped lbw on the last ball of the fifth over.
Pozzi (21) replaced him and the next 19 overs saw a steady partnership of 69 come together, before Shephard was removed with the score on 85.
Stuart Shephard (15) began brightly as Pozzi was replaced by Conor Green but the ‘Nelson’ superstition rang horribly true for Norton as the next wicket fell on 111.
Seven wickets then went down for just 42 runs as the middle order was ripped apart by Tanworth change bowler Joe Kelso, who took 5-47 off his full spell, including three wickets in five balls.
Green battled hard amidst the carnage and finished 36 not out, including the only six of the innings, as Norton limped to 166 all out in the last over.
Defending a low total, Pozzi rallied his troops during the tea interval and then led the way, bowling straight through his spell with the new ball.
He tied the batsmen down with his best return of the season, conceding just 14 runs and taking three wickets, well supported by the in-form Nijjar who also bowled through, finishing with 2-25.
Despite reaching 31 before the first wicket in the seventh over, Tanworth then lost their way completely with just 30 more added over the next 23 overs and found themselves six down.
Richard Blythe had taken over the attack to cause further misery to the visitors, and he worked efficiently through the lower order.
From 77-9, Brandon Kelso (22) and Oliver Banks (24no) caused concern as they swung the bat effectively, but Blythe held his nerve to take his fourth wicket, and the innings closed on 128.
Norton are now safely among the mid-table group in the Premier Division, and in their final game on Saturday they face Leek Wootton, who are already relegated.
Over at Glasshouse Lane, Norton’s second team met Kenilworth Warden’s Thirds, with both teams competing for a promotion slot from Division Two.
Dan Fell won the toss and having noticed the forecast, decided to gamble and bat first.
But after only 20 minutes play, a heavy shower forced the players off and the covers stayed on for half an hour.
Play resumed as the sun returned but the Wardens opening bowlers continued their pressure, conceding only 27 runs off the first 11 overs.
Martin Perfect (14) was the first to succumb, sending a leading edge back for an easy catch, then Kieran Kite (6) and Mark White (4) had brief stays to leave the score on 49-3.
Rory Baker (25) joined opener Dan Fell (29) and the pair put the innings into some sort of shape, adding another 39 over the next 11 overs.
Ian Baber (25) then replaced Fell as it became clear this was a difficult wicket and any runs would be a premium, and he took full advantage of any errors in length.
But three wickets then fell with the score on 123 to leave Norton eight down, and victory hopes seemed to be slipping away.
Steve Dellow (6no), Varun Goel (7) and Tim Fell (5) worked well to use up the last five overs as they edged the final score to 144, and the extra runs turned out to be crucial.
Nick Whiting and Prab Sahota were the most economical bowlers, each conceding 18 runs off their ten-over spells, and sharing three wickets between them.
Due to the rain interruption, Wardens’ target was revised to just 119 off 37 overs and the stage was set for an exciting second half.
Dellow and Baker opened the attack, producing a fascinating battle between bat and ball as Wardens pushed carefully to 28-1 off the first 11 overs.
Coming in at three, Tom Mordey (16) survived a difficult chance then started sending the ball confidently to the boundary.
One attempt too many saw a short delivery from Baker disappear into the sky and the catch was well taken by Goel at mid-wicket.
Swapping the bowling round, Fell took a chance and threw the ball to Perfect, whose previous spell had been more than six weeks earlier.
Initially this had little effect on the game, as opener Fred Rex (30) continued to accumulate steadily to get Wardens in sight of the line, taking the score to 85-2 with 12 overs left.
Rex and Richard Linfield (15) had put together a crucial partnership that seemed to have the hosts firmly in the box seat, needing only 24 to win.
However, the next ten overs saw an unbelievable turn in fortune for the visitors, starting with the dismissal of Linfield, who sent one of Perfect’s deliveries straight to Baker on the boundary.
Rex could then only watch in despair as the innings began to crumble at the hands of the part-time bowler, and finally he himself became one of the victims as he was trapped lbw.
At 112-7, Wardens had still been in with a huge chance but they found themselves entering the last over with just one wicket remaining and six to win, as veteran Tim Fell became Norton’s last throw of the dice.
On the second ball, Ollie Morgan-Jones decided to go for glory, attempting to launch a half-volley towards the long-off boundary.
Everyone held their breath as skipper Dan Fell struggled to pick up the ball in the gloom, but somehow he managed to cling on, only to disappear beneath the elated bodies of his team-mates moments later.
Perfect finished with career best figures of 5-22 off his eight overs to add to the celebrations.
The gutsy win guarantees Norton will occupy a promotion slot from Division Two, but success against Wellesbourne Seconds this weekend will see them go up as champions.
Further down Wolverton Road, Norton’s third string, already champions of Division Seven, faced Kineton Seconds who were in a battle with Broadway Seconds for the other promotion place.
The visitors won the toss and decided to bowl first.
Nils Purser (57), James Thomas (26) and Bob Penrose (32) laid a good base, but a slow scoring rate saw the hosts only reach 161-7 off their 45 overs.
Due to a rain interruption, Kineton’s target was adjusted to 147, but they were much more productive with the bat and paced their reply well, passing the line in the 37th over for the loss of just three wickets.
Despite this, skipper Martin Hall maintained his good form taking 1-19 off a full spell.