Thetford A clinch promotion with a game to go
Thetford A defeated Topcroft A at home on Saturday to secure the 22 points they needed to guarantee promotion to Norfolk Alliance Division Five. With Bradfield A only managing a losing draw, this leaves them with an eight-point lead in the league title race ahead of this weekend’s final games.
Asked to field first in energy-sapping conditions, Thetford started poorly with the ball, giving too many scoring opportunities to Topcroft skipper Ben Davy.
However, Matt Kerling (2-17) settled first to trap J Rhodes LBW and Gavin Siriwardena (1-25) had M Taylor caught at point to leave a weakened Topcroft line-up in trouble at 42-2
After Davy (31) was also caught at point, off Kerling, James Nobbs provided spirited resistance, but lacked support as Matt Terry (3-37), Nathan Coleman (2-13) and Dan Greyson (1-13) kept the pressure on and chipped Topcroft wickets away.
When Terry held a sharp caught-and-bowled chance from Nobbs (39), the innings was all but over, but the final wicket only fell in the 44th over when opener Glen James (1-20) returned to the fray.
Thetford faced a target of just 131 to win, which they should have been able to overhaul with ease, despite not having their strongest batting line-up available. However, Keith Greyson chipped to extra cover and Pete Terry missed a straight one from Topcroft’s best bowler, Nobbs (2-22), and Thetford were struggling at 21-2.
Nick Shepherd then benefited from a drop at slip that could have changed the course of the game, but steadied the innings in partnership with Pat Sparkes. This pair resisted the best that the attack could muster and punished the weaker bowlers until victory was in sight at 108-2, when Sparkes was bowled by Nobbs.
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It was left to Mick Leverton to help Shepherd (34 not out) get Thetford across the finishing line in the 30th over, completing what was ultimately a comfortable victory.
Thetford A now need one last win or winning draw to achieve their best league result for over a decade, but promotion represents an excellent return whatever the finale brings.