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Houghton Town Match Report - 1st May 2006
Houghton Town 185-6 beat Offley & Stopsley 181-7 by 4 wickets
Offley & Stopsley began their North Herts League campaign against long-time rivals Houghton Town. The hosts won the toss and batted first and at the third time of asking finally came up with a decent partnership. Dave Bridgland led from the front as he carried the attack to the Houghton Town bowlers, mixing crashing drives with the odd agricultural mow. Richie Barker provided solid support before the first wicket fell for 94, Barker lazering a full toss to cover. That dismissal prompted a collapse as Mo Chaudry went for a single, Chris Latino completed a pair for the weekend and Bridglands impressive innings of 60 was cut short by a fine catch in the deep.
Worse was to come as Nathan Brodie was stumped for 5 and Rizwan hit across the line once too often. It was left to Steve Bexfield to repair the innings as best he could, grinding out an unbeaten 38 and sharing stands of 19 with Phil Gourd and 24 with Qumar to life Offley to 181-7.
Paul Bridgland struck an early blow in the visitors reply but stand-in-stumper Bexfield missed a tricky leg side opportunity off Qumar. Bexfield is known as The Cat because he gives batsmen nine lives. Other fielding lapses proved costly as Houghton Towns batsmen led a charmed existence with Rizwan, Brodie and Latino failing to cling on to chances of varying difficulty.
Barker removed Javed, sweeping out of the rough against the spin and finally dismissed the dangerous Naveed for a composed 81 that ultimately proved decisive. Gourd claimed a couple of quick wickets and Freeman delivered a venomous spell in the gloom but Houghton Town held on to clinch a deserved victory.
The result means that Offley & Stopsley have begun the season with three defeats on the bounce, a worrying start to the campaign and now need a strong effort in their opening Saracens League encounter against Rickmansworth on Saturday. Its time to dig deep, circle the wagons, batten down the hatches and hope for the best.