Ashwell show their mettle

CRICKET: Ashwell skipper Jonathan Merrell praised his side s winning mentality following an entertaining win at Cokenach which also maintained the pressure on Cambs Junior Division 1B league leaders Thurlow. The visitors won by two wickets with just one

CRICKET: Ashwell skipper Jonathan Merrell praised his side's winning mentality following an entertaining win at Cokenach which also maintained the pressure on Cambs Junior Division 1B league leaders Thurlow.

The visitors won by two wickets with just one ball to spare, and returned to second spot in the table.

Merrell said: "It's good to be back in the promotion places, but with seven weeks to go I'm sure that there will be plenty of twists and turns ahead."

Cokenach skipper Field elected to bat, and found Ashwell's Matt Skelding a model of consistency in line and length, with six overs for 5 runs in his opening spell.

Cokenach's Gill and Rychard Field (24) shared a partnership of 49 before Gill Field was trapped lbw by Jon Simmons (1-11).

Stevens (12) was smartly stumped by Richard Young in trying to up the tempo, with the on 72 for 3, but his dismissal allowed the dangerous Keel into the fray, who immediately announced his intentions with a powerful six.

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But Keel was run out following some smart work by Steve Parkhouse for a still well-worked 21.

Sixteen-year-old Alex Griffin then pegged Cokenach back further by taking 2-20, and with Tim Moynihan and Gary Simmons also bowling well, Cokenach began to slip away.

Skelding finished with 3-21 and left Cokenach all out for 120.

Ashwell's reply began solidly, with Richard Young proving an obstacle to the bowlers at one end, while Steve Parkhouse, Gary Simmons and Graeme Hodson played cameo innings around him.

Wickets fell though, and the required run rate began to climb as Ford (10-2-23-0) and the first spell from Keel (1-4) rattled through their overs.

At 43 for 3 after 19 overs, Tim Moynihan joined Young, and hit Ashwell's first boundary as he took the attack to the left arm spin of Botten (3-27).

After Botten eventually accounted for Moynihan (19), skipper Merrell (25) continued the attack, before he and Young (20) fell in quick succession and left Ashwell teetering at 112 for 7, and needing nine runs to win from their last nine balls.

Gavin Donald (5 not out) hit the last ball of the penultimate over for 4, to reduce the pressure to leave three runs needed from the final over.

Martyn Deal brought the scores level, before he was dismissed by Field (3-19), leaving the stage set for Alex Griffin to hit the winning single.

Merrell said: "That's six league wins for us now and only one of those has been comfortable. So our ability to grind out the result is very pleasing and probably symptomatic of a winning mentality that has been fostered over the last couple of seasons.

"Both Jon Simons and Alex Griffin did a great job, and showed that there is depth in this squad."

Merrell will be hoping for win number seven this Saturday when Ashwell entertain mid-table Bar Hill.

RETURNING to winning ways, Thriplow seconds saw off Balsham seconds with a comfortable eight-wicket victory.

The Cambs Junior Division 5C basement boys have struggled for runs all season and Thriplow's opening bowling pair Ali King and Nathan Sugden turned the screw and kept their Balsham rivals in check.

Their persistence was rewarded when Clarkson was bowled by King for 1, and after 20 overs Balsham were on 54 for 4.

Andrew Woolley came in for Thriplow and his accuracy was rewarded with figures of 9-3-17-2, with only Turk and Malins managing any threat for the visitors.

Richie Turner made matters worse for Balsham and his 10-2-26-4 saw the hosts dismiss their opponents for 104 in the 38th over.

However, Thriplow have also experienced their own batting problems this season, and as a result the game was far from secure.

Aggressive stroke play from openers Duncan Walker and stand-in skipper Daniel Carr started well and recorded an opening stand of 60, before Carr was bowled for 32.

Walker followed shortly after for 25, but any chance Balsham had of recovering was quickly negated with William Wright (22 not out) and Gary Walters (17 not out) seeing Thriplow home with eight overs to spare.