Hitchin remain top of Herts League Division One, but now only have a two-point cushion over Sawbridgeworth following a tense one-wicket defeat at Abbots Langley.

The visitors won the toss and chose to bat and although several of the order made starts, they never really got going on a difficult, turning wicket and were dismissed for 181 after 44.5 overs.

Opener Luke Day top-scored with 32, while five of his teammates made 20 or over, including James Tilbury’s unbeaten 20 down the order which helped put on 36 runs for the last wicket.

In reply, Abbots struggled similarly against good Hitchin bowling and when the seventh wicket went down on 102 only one result looked possible.

A fine eighth-wicket stand of 73 nearly saw the hosts home but another twist in the tail came when the hosts lost two wickets in quick succession.

This meant three runs were needed from the final over or one wicket for Hitchin, but Abbots got over the line with two balls to spare.

Musa Ilyas was the best of the bowlers with 3-25, with Sam Rippington (2-24) and Toqeer Hussain (2-33) claiming two wickets each.

Pete Murrell took five wickets for PrestonPete Murrell took five wickets for Preston (Image: Preston CC)

Preston got back to winning ways with a commanding six-wicket victory against Hoddesdon in the Championship.

After a quick-fire start, Hoddesdon were 67 off the first ten overs. But the top order failed to capitalise on this and wickets soon fell regularly.

It was the slower, spin pairing of Luke Marsden (3-31) and Pete Murrell (5-35) who applied the brakes and between them took 8-66 as Hoddesdon were dismissed for 190 in 50 overs.

In reply, Preston got over the line in 38 overs, reaching 194-6 thanks to a sensible all-round batting performance.

Ed Wharton scored 76, supported by his opening partner James Stevens with 32.

Skipper Jake George added 22 and Jack Stevens brought the win home with a patient 40 not out.

Basement side Letchworth’s home clash with Broxbourne ended in a dramatic tie.

Middle order contributions of 40 from Tom Manning, Sajjad Homyoon’s 46 and Sam Kendle’s 38 were key to Letchworth posting 216-7 from their 60 overs.

In reply, Zac Hayes’ 6-57 was pivotal in bowling Letchworth into what looked to be a winning position as Broxbourne were reduced to 189-9.

However, it needed a run out from David Albon to end Liam Robinson’s innings of 21 and ensure the match ended with 15 points for each side.

Stevenage’s hopes of picking up a third win of the season in Division Two A were thwarted by a narrow one-wicket defeat to Langleybury.

Jason Chapman’s 72 was the key innings in the home side’s total of 225 all out, although tail end contributions of 30 from Moses Anil, Monohar Kosaraju’s 17 and 11 not out from Mike Philpotts enabled the last two wickets to add 56 runs to that total.

In reply, Langleybury appeared to be easy to the win after opener Finlay Reid’s 108 helped them to 150-2.

But Stevenage battled back and came within one wicket of securing the victory as their opponents scraped home with five balls to spare.

Knebworth Park bounced back from a poor run of results to claim a thrilling four-wicket win one ball from the end of their clash with Rickmansworth in Division Two B.

A high-scoring game on another belter of a batting track at Knebworth began with the visitors scoring at a rapid pace to reach 168-3 off 26 overs.

The Park then started to take wickets regularly, eventually dismissing their opponents for 264.

Gareth Jones (3-60) and Charlie Randall (4-47) were the most successful bowlers.

In reply, Haydon Bartlett Tasker (86) and Josh Roseberry (54) laid an impressive foundation in a stand of 124.

Randall then led the push for victory with his superb 73 not out in the final score of 266-6.

Ickleford secured a comfortable 56-win at Totteridge Millhillians Seconds in Division Three A.

Nadeem Akhtar (46) and Duncan Jenner (38) led the way as Ickleford reached 161-3 with overs to play with, only for their innings to implode as they crashed to 173 all out.

Ickleford needed a bright start, and they got one.

Axel Morris tore into the top order, with 4-33 from seven overs, and with Eswar Krishnamurthy (1-23) his usual miserly self, the home side were reduced to 50-5.

Captain George Crouch (2-21) pouched a couple of further wickets, and despite a late rearguard from the lower order, Sadat Sheraz (2-20) and Akhtar cleaned up the tail for 117 all out.