Matlock began the second half of the season in style with a comfortable win over second-placed Duffield on Saturday.
Kevin Leatherday won the toss and elected to bat, hoping a reasonable target would put pressure on Duffield’s batsman later in the day.
The ploy started well with Leatherday dispatching his second delivery over mid-wicket for six and continuing to punish the bowlers with shots over extra-cover, an area well utilised by the captain throughout the season so far.
It was this shot that brought about his undoing as a mis-timed effort found the hands of Tim Williscroft on 43. Rob and Ed Lowe have both been in good touch recently but this week they were unable to push on from Leatherday’s start as Matlock were reduced to 88-4.
Rebuilding was needed and came in the form of a solid partnership between Steve Pell (63) and Drew Mullaney (30) who batted sensibly and accumulated well. This was followed by another cameo from Andy Roberts (15) who has found success coming in near the end of the innings this year.
This, along with 51 helpful extras, saw the hosts reach 233. Leatherday was pleased with how his side had responded to the plan and Duffield knew that their work would be cut out after the break. A fast outfield and relatively friendly wicket however meant a win was far from certain.
Chris Pemberton, who has bowled without luck in previous games, found life out of the pitch and caused Duffield problems early on. He managed to break through and, in a similar fashion to the first game of the year, Duffield’s batsman fell fairly readily with both Pemberton (4-20) and Ed Lander (3-37) making inroads.
Duffield never threatened the total and were seven down by drinks. The wicket, however, was becoming easier to bat on and Matlock knew the final three wickets would be tough to come by. Mullaney hit good areas along with Dave Lander and Ashley Drayner and built up pressure against the visitors’ lower order.
In doing this the trio each managed to pick up a wicket and with Mullaney finding the edge of Thomas Roe’s bat, the young leg-spinner secured 27 valuable points for Matlock.