Murrell stars with the ball as Preston win to continue Division One title quest

Preston's Peter Murrell bowls in the match between Preston and Watford Town. Picture: DANNY LOO

Preston's Peter Murrell bowls in the match between Preston and Watford Town. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Preston stayed top of the Herts Cricket League Championship with an important seven-wicket win over Old Albanian on Saturday.

After a delayed start thanks to water leaking from the covers onto the pitch, the league leaders decided to bowl first.

It was a decision that paid off as Mark Waters removed the dangerous Usman Farooq (24) and with his final delivery took care of Robbie Goldstone, trapping him LBW.

Preston's attack tore through the Old Albanian's order, reducing them to 81-7, and they continued to chip away at the tailend, eventually ending their innings 121 all out from 36 overs.

Peter Murrell was the pick of the bowlers with 6-21, while credit also went to 15-year-old Alex Gallimore, who recorded figures of 1-36 from eight overs on his first-team debut for the club.

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In response, Preston made a strong start to their innings.

They were 21-0 from four overs and seemed to be well on their way to victory, but it wasn't all plain sailing for the table toppers.

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Opener Pete Gooden was the first batsman dismissed, caught behind as the side managed only five runs from their next six overs.

Quick wickets began to fall as Lewis Balcombe soon joined Gooden in the pavilion, caught sharply at short-cover, and Jack Stevens (17) was next out caught behind after looking settled.

Preston found themselves floundering somewhat at 50-3, with the ball still moving around significantly off the sticky wicket.

George Biggs then came to the crease and saved Preston, firing nine fours in an unbeaten knock of 54 from 64 balls in a 71-run partnership with Jack Morecroft.

The win sees Preston stay top of Division One on 297 points with 11 games gone.

The leaders would have been disappointed to see title challengers Langleybury and Broxbourne both win over the weekend as all three continue their promotion hunt.

Preston face a rival in the form of Hitchin on Saturday, with both local bragging rights and a crucial 30 points on the line in an important clash.

They will also want fellow local rivals Ickleford to do them a huge favour in the battle for promotion as they face second-placed Langleybury, while Preston will also have on eye on Broxbourne - who sit third - in their game against fourth-bottom Harpenden II.

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