Leaders Darley Dale march on

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Darley entertained fellow promotion contenders Marehay in a thrilling battle at a picturesque Station Road on Saturday.

Losing the toss, the home side were asked to make first use of an impressive looking wicket.

Andy Paulett and Craig Elliott set about the task and looked assured in a 144-run opening stand.

When Paulett (66) was dubiously run out, and Elliott was caught for a patient 44, it was left to Jack Stone (16) and Stef Jackson (17*) to plunder quickfire runs and see Darley to a respectable 190-5.

Paul Carson got Darley off to the best of starts, trapping Dan Palmer LBW for 2.

It wasn’t long before Carson picked up his second and a short time later he was flying through the air to cling on to a stunner off the bowling of Sam Lightfoot to dismiss Ady Vickerage and end Marehay’s hopes of a victory.

Simon Cotterill’s 3-26 and another wicket from Lightfoot gave Darley brief hope but Marehay skipper Chris Ford and Lewis Palmer had enough to deny Darley 27 points.

With the home team picking up 17 points and Morton picking up 27 at Swanwick, Darley’s lead at the summit of Division Four North is reduced to just eight points.

Darley Dale second XI won the toss and asked hosts Ashover to bat first in glorious sunshine. 

Matt Tong got the early breakthrough with Saxton edging to Lee Marsden for 4. 

Darley’s early confidence was soon dented with some loose bowling and some bludgeoning shots. The introduction of Jonny Heath (5-35) and Tony Sadler (3-31) brought wickets and when Ashover were bowled out in the 45th over the score had moved on to a challenging 190.

Darley’s reply got off to a terrible start, J Hartley caught in the first over after tea.

James Marsden (23) was the only resistance in the Darley top order as a flurry of poor shots and a horrendous umpiring decision reduced the visitors to 61-7.

This brought Jon Cooper (15) and Jonny ‘Gayle’ Heath (48*) together and the pair doubled the score to 122-8 when Cooper fell.

Heath, with an explosion of big hits soon ran out of partners and Darley were left 61 short of the total, Roche (4-35) the pick of the bowlers.