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Offley got back to winning ways with a five-wicket victory over West Herts to retain top spot in the Saracens League. Gareth Mathewson claimed 6-56 during an epic 18-over spell before the Offley batsmen chased down the target with some ease.
Steve Bexfield won the toss and elected to field first despite a lack of fast bowling options. With Colin Keeley absent through injury and Dan Jordan enjoying a tour of Watford in his search for the ground, Matthew Freeman took the new ball and put the memory of two wretched spells behind him to produce arguably his best performance of the season. Although Freeman failed to take a wicket in his 11 over burst he conceded just 19 runs and caused plenty of problems for the batsmen who were happy just to survive. Rizwan allowed 19 runs off eight overs to deny West Herts any momentum at the top of the order.
Rizwan and Freeman gave way to Mathewson and Jordan and the pair maintained the pressure with some accurate bowling. Although West Herts posted the 100 with all their wickets intact, it was clear that their chances of posting a challenging score were slipping away. Mathewson made the breakthrough when he claimed two wickets in an over and quickly added a third. Jordan removed Khaki for 55 to spark a procession as West Herts crumbled. Mo Chaudry picked up a couple of catches including a well-judged effort in the deep and Mathewson ran through the middle order as he picked up six wickets. It was a fine performance by the accomplished Nicky Boje impersonator and helped make up for some of the anguish he felt as South Africa headed towards a crushing defeat against Sri Lanka. Jordan finished with 3-41, rapping up the innings with an excellent return catch to dismiss West Herts for 168.
Bexfield and Chaudry shared an opening stand of 43 as Offley started positively before Bexfield skyed a return catch. Jeff Francis came and went all too quickly and Offley were rocking slightly on 85-3 when Chaudry fell for 37. However, Jordan and Richie Barker added 32 quick runs before Jordan holed out at cover to make it 117-4. Chris Austin came in and dropped anchor allowing Barker to chance his arm against the spin and bring Offley level before he fell LBW with one needed to win. Two balls later Offley clinched victory courtesy of four byes to preserve their five-point lead at the top.