Wirksworth & Middleton held on for a losing draw against high-flying Nutbrook in another absorbing Division Two encounter.
At the start of play Nutbrook were third in the division with a game in hand over the two sides above them and just seven points adrift.
They had lost just once and, earlier in the season, comprehensively beat W&M, heading the table in the process and sending W&M to the bottom.
Since then W&M had lost just one further league game in the last 10 – so this game was always going to be be a good indicator of that improvement.
Chasing Nutbrook’s 198-8 total, W&M finished up with 159-8 to take 10 points while Nutbrook claimed 17.
Bowling first W&M had the visitors in early trouble at 29-3 thanks to a good opening spell by Max Marshall (1-34 from 10 overs) and two wickets for Jamie Rowland.
This became 81-3 at the halfway point. Soon after drinks Jack Allen, captaining again for the absent Ant Woolley, made it 86-4 after which another decent partnership of 49 was ended with a second wicket for Allen.
Rowland returned to the attack and struck a crucial blow having T Bentley lbw for 70 – a decision which left the batsman demonstrably and distinctly unimpressed.
Two further wickets secured a fourth bowling point for W&M, equalling their total for the whole match earlier in the season, as Nutbrook finished with 198-8.
Not may sides have restricted Nutbrook to under 200 in 46 overs and on two or three occasions this season they have topped 300. Rowland ended with 4-43 and Allen 3-54, all the bowlers being well supported by sharp, energetic fielding.
W&M seemed somewhat unsure as to how to proceed with the chase. That they opted for extreme caution might, of course, have reflected the quality of the opening bowlers.
A first wicket fell in the ninth over with the score just 11, six of those from one over, when Jamie Rowland, one of the batting heroes of the previous week, was out for nine.
Syed Abrar then joined Jack Ritchie and the approach was much the same. In fact it wasn’t until the 20th over that the scoring rate reached two runs an over.
There were some fine, sweetly timed shots from both batsmen but they were just unable to pierce the field in a game sponsored by Roy Pearce.
W&M’s fielding was good; Nutbrook’s was even better as Abrar discovered when he was superbly run out, the first of three run-outs, for 12 with the score 44.
At drinks W&M were 52-2 with Ben Perry-Taylor at the crease. He injected an immediate urgency into proceedings as from the next seven overs he and Ritchie added 50 more runs.
At 102-2 after 30 overs, if not actually tipping the balance in W&M’s favour, it at least raised the possibility of the win.
Alas, Perry-Taylor was out for 36 in the next over and eight runs later Jack Allen, slipping badly when turning for a second run, was stranded by another sharp piece of fielding.
So 110-4 then became 110-5 when Ritchie’s long, gutsy innings ended for 41. Max Marshall and Rahim Ali nudged the score to 129 when another naïve mix-up saw Rahim run out as well.
Michael Jefferiss batted with calm assurance, using up the overs, before Marshall was yorked for 12.
Liam Murphy hung in gamely as the last over arrived. Off the second ball Jefferiss got a snorter and was caught for 18 bringing Harry Wanford in to face four balls. He smacked the first of them to the boundary as W&M survived an enthralling, if far too tense, final half hour.
This week the firsts are without a game due to the Staveley Welfare situation.
In Division 6N, Nutbrook second XI (285-3) were held with W&M seconds (170-7)
Currently bottom of the division, with just one win and having lost five of their last six matches, including being bowled out for just 43 three weeks ago, Nutbrook somehow posted their highest total by far as well as restricting W&M to their lowest haul of wickets of the summer.
The damage was done principally by Ryan McGrath with 126 not out and Lewis Haywood with 69 – the pair of them adding 194 together.
In Division 8N Wirksworth’s thirds (180-6) lost to Chesterfield Barbarians II (182-4) by six wickets, James Thompson scoring 78 not out for W&M.
Wirksworth & Middleton CC U15s have won the Derby & District League Cup.
In a tense game on the top pitch at Denby they defeated the home side by 97-7 to 94 all out.
Batting first Charlie Mellor (19) and Michael Wright (12) withstood some hostile fast bowling and established a sound base to the innings: the middle order chipped in briefly and
On a large ground the 97 total was defensible – just.
Richard Tunnicliffe and Harry Wanford, excellent openers, both bowled with accuracy and aggression, but the powerful Denby batsmen reached 49-1 in seven overs.
Steady mid-innings bowling by Josef Whitfield, Liam Temperton, Luke Eaton and Billy Rowlatt was supported by spirited fielding.
With eight needed from the last over Michael Wright held his nerve with a steady over of leg spin and a run out by Matt Charlton saw WMCC home to a hard-working team victory as Denby faded under the WMCC pressure.
This has been a group of young players with a strong team ethic and it stood out in this commendable victory.
The U15s previously won the Collard Dawn County Cup and the club will celebrate their achievements with a special match on Bank Holiday Monday.
All 13 squad members are Anthony Gell students and they will represent club and school against the Mayor’s Community XI, led by Councillor Andy Pollock.