Dale firsts struggle but seconds earn a victory

Darley Dale endured a frustrating afternoon that saw them beat the weather but narrowly avoid defeat at home to Morton.

Having won the the toss, Darley skipper Craig Elliott asked Morton to make use of a wet wicket.

Whilst Paul Carson and Douglas Briggs bowled well early on, Blair Matthews and Steve Else were able to see off the opening threat and provide a firm base to the Morton innings which had been reduced to just 35 overs due to the rain delay.

The introduction of Greg Ward brought about the wickets of Matthews and Alex Beeson in successive overs thanks to sharp catching from Stef Jackson and keeper Jack Stone.

Else (33) and Martyn Poyney (40) began to accelerate before Rich Hadfield (23) and Paul Holmes (32*) inspired Morton to a competitive 159-4.

In reply a mix up between Andy Paulett and Elliott saw Elliott run out and Hadfield held a stunner to dismiss Stone for 4.

Only Jackson (15), Watts (17) and Paulett (20) offered any hope of a Darley victory, but it was left to Briggs (5*) and Ward (8*) to see Darley home to a draw and just four points which narrows their lead at the summit of Division Four North to just ten points.

Darley’s second XI, however, produced a batting masterclass to overcome Morton 2nds on their own patch.

Batting first, Morton started nervously but D Caunt (94) and P Tideswell (79 not out) soon got firing and contributed to a mammoth 211-3 from their 34 overs.

Darley openers Jimmy Marsden and Jacob Hartley started sensibly and took the shine off the new ball before opening up with a volley of attacking shots.

When Hartley (57) was eventually caught Darley required 87 off the remaining ten overs, and Marsden aggressively took the game to Morton.

When he was evetually run out for a faultless 93 he had taken the away side to 186 for 2 with three overs to spare.

Tony Sadler (25 not out) and the impressive Matt Heath (17 not out) then showed complete calm and control in the tense situation taking Darley into the last over needing just five to win, and Sadler crashed the first ball of the over to the boundary and then took a quick single to secure victory.