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Offley & Stopsley CC 117-9 Vs Lilley CC 118-5 - 30th Sept
OSCC Lost by 5 Wkts
Offley ended the season with another defeat as they produced another dire batting display against Lilley. The result ensured that the Hammond-Towndrow Trophy was shared after the series ended 1-1.
Steve Bexfield won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first. Darren Lunney and David Bridgland opened the batting but both struggled to come to terms with a slow pitch and some accurate bowling from James Ashby and Gareth Tompkins. Lunney departed for a 20-ball duck after failing to connect with an agricultural mow before Bridgland was sent on his way for 4 after Umpire Keeley ruled in favour of the bowler on a borderline lbw decision. Bexfield indicated that he did not agree with the decision at the non-strikers end as he tossed his bat and gloves to the floor and would also have presumably have spat his dummy out had he been able to force it between the bars of his helmet grille.
Nathan Brodie joined Bexfield and the pair began to repair the damage of 10-2. However, Brodie was well caught at short cover for 7 to leave Offley rocking. Chris Austin helped Bexfield dig in with some solid batting and they helped drag the total to 50 before Bexfield slapped a short pitched delivery to square leg to leave Lilley firmly in control.
Richie Barker and Austin shared the most substantial stand of the innings as they slowly rebuilt the innings before Austin was bowled after aiming a wild smear at Perry. Keeley blocked his first ball and then crushed his second into the trees to inspire hopes of a late surge.
However, the bid for runs ended in a cruel run out. Barker and Keeley both have a certain amount of previous when it comes to running between the wickets (in much the same way that the Krays had a spot of previous in the GBH line) and it was no real surprise when Keeley was run out after attempting an optimistic single to gulley. He made it halfway down and a quarter of the way back before Craig Paddingtons slow-moving throw collided with the stumps and had just enough power to dislodge a bail.
Chris Latino and Barker stayed together until the penultimate over when Barker tried and died in a bid to clear the boundary and holed out at extra cover. Latino was run out by Matthew Freeman, his third scalp in two innings, and despite a boundary off the final ball from Mark Ward Offleys 117-8 looked at least 20 runs light.
Lilley proved they were treating things seriously as Ashby and Brad Tompkins opened the reply. Ashby looked ready to chance his arm against Freeman while Tompkins dug in to see off Keeley. Keeley looked to have made the breakthrough when Tompkins offered a simple chance to Steve Baron in the gulley. Sadly the black-shoe clad fielder appeared to be hampered by the sunglasses he was wearing to counter the glare from the September sun and contrived to shell the opportunity. Baron, resembling an escapee from an Oasis tribute band, did his best to look contrite.
Ashby was granted a reprieve when Lunney failed to hold on to a relatively straightforward offering at mid on as Bexfield paid a high price for not stationing a specialist mid on fielder for the catch. Keeley was again the unfortunate bowler and at this point looked ready for a long winter break.
More worryingly Offley looked on for a 10-wicket defeat as Ashby and Tompkins posted Lilleys fifty and it was a welcome relief when Ashby charged down the track to Barker and connected with thin air before Austin whipped off the bails. Tompkins soon followed as miscued a cut to Brodie in the covers and Offley were alive when danger-man Gareth Tompkins kindly deposited a Barker long hop down Keeleys throat at square leg to give the bowler his 76th and final wicket of the season.
Freeman returned to the attack and bowled his fastest spell of the season in a vain effort to salvage victory for Offley. He was too quick for Perry and accounted for Eyres without scoring to leave Lilley five down. However, Kempston refugee Allbones held firm and Berry hit some lusty blows to see Lilley over the line.
All in all it was not a particularly satisfactory end to the season as Offley slumped to their third defeat in four games. The defeat snapped a two-game winning streak over their local rivals and the memories of the opening game of the season and a 207-run victory were forgotten amid the ruins of a poor batting display.
However, Offleys boys of summer will doubtless return for another season come next April and as the lager flowed in the bar afterwards thoughts were already turning to the next campaign, including the identity of the second team captain, the prospects of Wayne Cutts ever scoring double figures and the chances of Freeman eating his own weight in Chomps.
Heres to 2008.