Market Rasen’s spinners were again the catalyst as the 1st XI maintained their Lincolnshire League title charge, defeating Cleethorpes 2nds by six wickets.
The 2nd XI continued their fine late-season form, defeating Laportes by 57 runs and the Sunday 1st XI, with only two players over the age of 16, defeated Sleaford by 41 runs to complete a hat-trick of wins for the club.
Cleethorpes won the toss on Saturday and elected to bat first on a Chichester Road track that was tailor-made for Rasen’s spinners.
James Fussey made the first incision for the visitors, pinning Ryan Harrison LBW, but Stuart Harvey, 31, and John Mansfield put on 47 for the second wicket to steady the home side’s nerve.
Gary Bierlein then took over, pinning Mansfield in front and then picking up two more quick wickets to reduce Cleethorpes to 71 for 4.
This set the scene for the Rasen skipper, Matt Rutherford, to join in the fun, as he set about tormenting the hosts’ middle order. When he was done, he’d picked up 4 for 14.
Bierlein picked up the last two wickets to grab an excellent five-fer, finishing with 5 for 24 as Cleethorpes were bundled out for 96.
Rasen’s reply began even less auspiciously than Clee’s, with Bell and Christie back in the pavilion with only one run on the board. However, Liam Scales, 35, Tom Boryszczuk, 20, and Rutherford, 35 not out, ensured that there would be no dramas in chasing down the runs and Rasen cantered home in the 21st over.
The win leaves Rasen 13 points behind Messingham, with a game in hand and the men from the ‘Rec’ visiting Rase Park this Saturday for a title showdown.
Jon Stephenson smashed the Laportes bowling to all parts in a fine innings of 95 to lead the 2nd XI to a total of 195 for 6 from their 45 overs. He received excellent support from Charlie Scales, 23, and Tom Bradford, 23, and the middle order ensured that his efforts were not wasted.
Albie Wright then turned in a hostile spell with the new ball to set the tone for Laportes’ innings, which was to be one of struggle.
While he only picked up a single wicket, his 12 over spell of 1 for 20 allowed his younger team-mates to flourish and the visitors were bowled out for 138, in spite of 30 from Graham Clarke and 34 from Gill Singh Palli. Luke Richards enjoyed a fine afternoon with the ball, picking up 4 for 22.
Will Bradford’s Sunday 1st XI batted first against Sleaford, with U15s Matt Travis and Tom Keast putting on 78 for the first wicket.
Keast looked in particularly fine form, reaching his 50 in only 43 balls, with nine 4s.
Bradford smashed an unbeaten 92 from only 68 balls, putting on 156 for the second wicket with Travis.
With the tempo lifted by his captain, Travis joined in the fun, gambolling to 84 not out from 92 balls as Rasen posted an imposing 234 for 1 from their 40 overs.
Another star of Rasen’s successful U15 outfit, Paul Martin, then detonated Sleaford’s innings, picking up 3 for 9 from his six over spell. 13-year-old Nic Keast then joined in the fun, bagging 3 for 59, as the visitors’ middle order struggled to stay afloat.
Only an outstanding captain’s knock of 120 from Andy Hibberd kept Sleaford in the game. Once Keast finally induced a false stroke from Sleaford’s skipper the visitors succumbed, bowled out for 193.
This weekend sees the 1st XI host Messingham with a 12.30pm start.
The 2nd XI head to Outcasts for their final game of the season, 1pm start, knowing that 20 points will see them finish the season in fourth place in the Third Division.
The Sunday 2nd XI host Woodhall Spa with a 1.30pm start.