Exciting finish sees Darley Dale maintain title pursuit

Darley Dale continued on their charge for promotion from Division Four in a thrilling penultimate-over victory over fellow high-flyers Marehay.

Having won the toss Darley elected to field and were possibly rueing the decision when the in-form Matt Bailey began to put the Darley openers to the sword.

It wasn’t until Stef Jackson (3-42) and Paul Carson (1-38) managed to stem the flow that Darley looked in the game.

Simon Cotterill (1-64( bowled tightly early on to further restrict Marehay having taken a snorting catch at mid on.

The fourth wicket partnership between Ady Vickerage (66*) and Gareth Buckley, who was eventually stumped by Jack Stone for 53, saw Marehay post a daunting 212 for Darley to chase.

Craig Elliott and Andy Paulett got Darley off to the best possible start in reply, notching up a 50 partnership in just eight overs before Elliott was adjudged LBW for 35.

Moments later Paulett was bowled for 33 and Marehay sensed a Darley collapse.

In form Stone and young Jake Hartley had other ideas and a 50 partnership under immense pressure set up a thrilling end to the game.

Hartley was caught to bring the cool-headed James Marsden to the crease, meanwhile Stone was starting to hit his straps and timed his way to another stylish 50.

Stone and Marsden had Darley within a whisker before Stone was bowled for a match-winning 57, but Marsden (19*) and Jamie Watts (19*) saw Darley home with seven balls to spare for a five wicket win.

Darley second XI moved into the promotion zone with a win over Ashover.

Darley were asked to bat first and found themselves at a meagre 20 from the first 20 overs for the loss of both openers.

Horton (13) with some beautiful leg glances and Nadin (38) added some momentum but the introduction of Lee Marsden (41) changed the nature and style of the innings, as he and Nadin took the score beyond the 100 and suddenly a reasonable score was on.

Both players were out in quick succession, and it was left to captain Taylor (17) and Allsop (11) to move the total to a respectable and potentially defendable 149.

Darley needed to bowl tight and keep pressure on Ashover. Wright followed his captain’s words perfectly, bowling an opening spell of six overs for a stingy single.

Heath was bowling some of his quickest deliveries of the season but getting no luck.

Ashover found themselves in a good position of 30-0 from 16 overs, but the introduction of Dan Marsden provided Darley’s first wicket with Lee Marsden taking a fine catch down the leg side to remove Cooke for 22.

This brought Bentley (24) to the wicket and Ashover moved quickly into what seemed a winning position of 70 for 1 at drinks.

The tide then turned once more as Saxton (24) found himself stood next to his partner at the non-strikers end and Heath sensibly ran him out.

Allsop then joined the attack and wreaked havoc on the Ashover batsmen, taking 5 for 35, his final wicket created by the flying Hartley at mid-wicket.

Allsop’s devastation found Ashover requiring 20 from five overs with still a couple of wickets left, and that became ten runs needed by the final pair before the re-introduction of Wright did the trick as he bowled Rhodes and then celebrated the win and a vital 27 points.