Preston hold their nerve to defeat Northchurch

Sam Crea bowls for Preston

Sam Crea bowls for Preston - Credit: Archant

Match report: Preston CC 221-7 Nortchurch 197-10

Preston find themselves sitting in fifth spot in Division 2A after a thrilling game against Northchurch.

Their opponents won the toss and elected to bowl but Warren Hearne once again batted doggedly for 34 before fishing at a wide one and being caught behind.

Preston’s middle order also batted well with Peter Murrell, David Fleckney and Sam Crea all getting into the 20s and 30s, and Ben Hill making 67.

Some excellent running between the wickets put Northchurch under pressure in the final stages and Preston posted a challenging 211-7 off their 50 overs.

Preston’s opening attack of Sam Crea and Mark Waters bowled well with Waters again getting into the wickets early, removing the Northchurch top three cheaply.

First change Nick Jones also proved a handful, bowling a tricky line and length to take 3-27, leaving Northchurch staring at defeat at 77-7.

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However, the Northchurch innings was then driven and carried by a superb 100 from No.6 Theo Gayton, one of the best individual knocks seen in the league at Preston for many years.

His impressive composure and powerful hitting had Preston rattled and the victory target got ever closer as Preston’s bowling and fielding started to crumble.

Fortunately left arm spinner Max Anderson grabbed two crucial wickets, and finally Australian Crea cleaned up centurion Gayton with a full-toss to finish the Northchurch chase at 197, giving Preston victory by just 14 runs.

After their record breaking batting last weekend, Preston 2nds crashed back down to defeat in a low scoring game at Hemel Hempstead 3rds.

Preston opted to bat first, hoping that the psychology of runs on the board would once again work in their favour.

But a damp wicket helped every delivery seam and bounce awkwardly, and it was somewhat of a precession as Preston’s batsmen either fell victim to excessive movement or to loose shots.

Fortunately, tail-ender Casey Hughes (41) managed to find the boundary with some big hitting.

His last wicket partnership with Mark Smith was the largest of the innings and lifted Preston from 74-9 to 104 all out.

Hughes was back in the action with the ball, and in a vicious 10 over spell of 3-33 he unsettled the Hemel top order with pace and bounce.

With Andy Riant and Ashley Catlin chipping in with wickets, Preston felt they had a chance of a win as Hemel slipped to 69-6.

Unfortunately by this stage much of the life had gone from the wicket and Hemel’s seventh wicket pair batted with patience to chip away at the target, seeing their side to victory by four wickets.

The 3rds fell to defeat at home to Redbourn. Preston were all out for 155 in 45.2 overs and Redbourn got home by three wickets in the 47th over of their innings.

Preston 4ths travelled to Datchworth on Saturday for a friendly as Knebworth Park had conceded the league match.

Tom Carr made 22 and Peter Robbins 45 but Preston scored just 146. Datchworth found the going tough but got home by one wicket.