Devon D West
WHITCHURCH put in an excellent team performance to come away with seven points from champions elect Stoke Gabriel.
The late withdrawal of Darren Sambells meant that Whitchurch travelled with just 10 players and were already light in the bowling department. The pre-match warm up saw the unusual sight of all nine outfielders practicing their bowling as there was a real prospect of everyone having to have a turn. Four bowlers managed a full quota of overs and limited the strong Stoke Gabriel batting line-up to well under 300 runs. Dave Northey (0-54) and Dan Towl (2-42) set the tone backed up by solid fielding.
Tolley (37) and Gwynne (38) looked imperious but both failed to kick on. Ben Hodge dismissed Gwynne with a spectacular catch square of the wicket, plucking the ball out of the sky while diving to his left.
Northey was unlucky not to take a wicket as he bowled accurately, moving the ball late, causing problems. Several batsmen came and went as the scratch bowling kept to the task. Tilsley (0-49) and Hodge (2-45) got through the next 18 overs.
At 132-1 Hodge got rid of the dangerous Kingdon. Things were still looking ominous for a 300 plus score but the wickets continued to fall, no one in the middle order going over 25. Neil Robinson (68 not out) put pressure on the scoreboard but the visitors kept the other end tight.
Whitchurch went into tea having conceded 256 feeling that a good job had been done. Although Ben Powell (16) set off after the target with gusto it was never a real prospect. Jack Robinson (3-28) caused real problems and 55-4 looked as though all the good work in the first innings was going to be lost.
Steve Hodge scored a patient 21 ably supported by Bob Powell (28) brought stability. Tom Cotter (23) followed suit and the game meandered to a close. Stoke Gabriel happy with the result gave everyone a bowl and Northey (22 not out) completed his fine day with a flurry of boundaries.
The seven points gained mean that Whitchurch have a 21 point cushion going into the last two games. They face Barton next Saturday hoping to secure sufficient points to avoid relegation themselves.
nOn Saturday Whitchurch firsts are home to Barton seconds in the league while the seconds are away to Shaldon Optimists thirds; on Sunday a friendly v Cornwall over 50s.