MARKET Rasen Town Cricket Club made the most of their Lincolnshire League double-header with Caistor Town Cricket Club at Rase Park last weekend.
The 1sts sealed promotion to Lincs League One with a comfortable 61 run victory over Caistor 2nds on Sunday and the 2nds cantered to a 112 run win over Caistor 3rds on Saturday.
The 1st XI’s convincing win guarantees Division One cricket at Rase Park in 2012 and continues to demonstrate the up-turn in fortunes for the club, which was kicked-off emphatically by last year’s Sunday League Championship.
The Division Two pennant is also Rasen’s in all but name, with only Cleethorpes 3rds having any mathematical chance of catching Simon Bunn’s side should Rasen take less than ten points from their last two games and Cleethorpes not drop a point from here-on in.
Not for the first time this season, Gary Bierlein was the architect of Rasen’s win, with a gritty 54 and 3 for 18 from ten overs.
His nous in the middle-order was required as, for the second time in as many outings, a fast start by Rasen’s openers was frittered away by a top order collapse.
Graeme Bell, 25, and Jason New, 21, opened up for Rasen and found the Caistor attack to their liking, hitting Lewis Jefferson out of it after his first three overs and putting 50 on the board in quick time.
Unfortunately, Bell and New fell in quick succession, followed swiftly by Nick Hooper, as Tim Brown made his mark with two wickets.
Tim Brown then held onto a chance off his brother Matthew’s bowling to send George Fussey on his way and leave Rasen struggling at 80 for 4.
Jon Stephenson, 26, joined Bierlein and the pair put on 47 for the fifth wicket, before young spinner Kieran Brooker picked up the first of his two wickets to send Stephenson on his way.
Bierlein continued to accumulate with Will Bradford and it was surprising when the all-rounder fell to Brooker, shortly after bringing up his 50.
Bradford, 19, and Mark Robinson, 16 not out, boosted Rasen’s total to 184 for 8 at the end of their 45 overs, which appeared to be more than enough on a track that offered some assistance to the bowlers.
Graeme Bell and Will Bradford took the new ball for Rasen and Bell struck in the first over, knocking over Ben Young’s stumps with only five on the board.
Bowling with pace, Bell and Bradford troubled the batsmen and their was an air of inevitability about Bradford’s dismissal of Nathan Davies LBW.
When Andrew Pearson was run out shortly afterwards Caistor were reeling on 20 for 3. Paul Rendell, 17, joined opener Kev Parker and the pair steadied the ship, but it was clear that the visitors had decided that batting out the overs was the best they could hope for and Parker dug himself in for the long-haul.
With Gary and Karl Bierlein toiling away, runs were at a premium, but Rasen could not make the necessary breakthroughs against a batting line-up that never came out of its shell.
Parker carried his bat for 51 not out and Caistor closed their innings on 123 for 7, to lose by 61 runs. Gary Bierlein, 3 for 18, was the pick of the home attack, with Bell, Bradford and Karl Bierlein each picking up a wicket apiece.
After two months on the road, the 2nd XI returned to Rase Park and found that the comforts of home agreed with them.
Asked to bat first on a testing track, Rasen had Will Bradford, 56, to thank for an imposing total of 190 all out.
The young batsman found steady support from Rob Jeffery, 28, and Tom Bradford, 19, and Rasen’s total was boosted by late runs from bowlers Dan Norburn, 23, and James Fussey, 21.
Ollie Barrick was the pick of the bowling for Caistor, taking 4 for 32 from 11.5 overs, with Ben Barrick picking up 3 for 31 from 7 overs and Ernie Allison 2 for 35 from 10 overs.
Caistor’s reply saw Dave Gowshall post a pugnacious 44, but no other batsman made much of an impression, as the visitors were dismissed for 78 in the 34th over.
James Fussey, 4 for 19, was the pick of the attack to round off a remarkable all-round performance for the youngster and he was well supported by Simon Atkinson, 3 for 11, and Andy Richley, 2 for 3.
The win sees Rasen up to third in the Fourth Division and while both Alford and Holton le Clay have games in hand, neither side is yet to visit Rase Park and, therefore, Rasen’s promotion chances are in their own hands with four games of the season remaining.
This weekend see the 2nds visiting Keelby 2nds on Saturday in another must-win Lincolnshire League clash on Saturday.
On Sunday, both sides are away in the McKinnells Lincoln Sunday League, with the 1st XI visiting Hykeham 1sts and the 2nd XI travelling to Aisthorpe.