Tunbridge Wells 221 lost to Lordswood 225-8 by 2 wkts
THIS was a game which both sides needed to win in order to further their title ambitions as members of the tight cluster at the top of the Kent League Premier Division, and a tense, committed encounter was played out.
The visitors won the toss and asked Wells to bat, and there were three ducks in the top four as the batsmen struggled to cope with the movement off the pitch.
Captain Chris Williams (38) showed admirable technique as he overcame the wiles of Palash Joshi (2 for 24 from his 10 overs), and he found an able ally in Marcus O’Riordan (34).
The skipper fell leg before but O’Riordan forged another stand of 43 with Graeme Francis before James Anyon (2 for 29) removed both batsmen to reduce the home side to 116 for 6.
There were still 20 overs to go, and Julian O’Riordan and Dave Smith fought a crucial rearguard for the seventh wicket, worth 93 runs from 106 balls as each compiled a half-century.
O’Riordan eventually fell for 55 off 81 balls with three fours and a six as Chaitanya Bishnoi grabbed 3 for 28, the last four wickets going down for just 12 runs,
David Smith was also dismissed for 55 off just 60 balls with six boundaries to leave Wells 221 all out with two balls remaining.
The reply was similarly rocked by the loss of three early wickets as Smith (2 for 33), with new ball in hand, removed Bishnoi and a testing spell from Paddy Sadler brought him the wickets of Jack Laraman and Joshi.
Linden Lockhart stood firm, though, and found a staunch ally in Chris Piesley (30) as they added 98 for the fourth wicket in 110 balls before Sadler (3 for 41) trapped the latter leg before.
Wells were back in the hunt when Lockhart was narrowly run out by Michael Churchill when he was going for a needless second run.
He had dropped anchor for a determined 79 from 121 deliveries with five boundaries, but now the home side had two ends to attack at 174 for 6.
Alex Williams (2 for 39) then snapped up two wickets in a key nine-ball spell, and Lordswood at 182 for 8 needed a testing 40 from the last five overs with just the tail to get them.
However, in a nerveless ninth-wicket stand Anyon (26 not out) and Adeel Hussain (14 not out) both found the boundary twice during a hectic run-in and they saw the visitors home with four balls to spare.
Lordswood leapt up to second spot in the table as news came in that Sandwich Town had lost while Blackheath hung on to their lead at the top and remain on course for the title.
So Wells dropped to fourth place, paying the price for an inability to take full bonus points as neighbours Sevenoaks Vine moved one point ahead of them.
The Vine visit the County Ground on Saturday [August 25] for a local derby in the penultimate episode of this finally balanced campaign.