UTTOXETER moved up to third in Derbyshire County League Division Five South after a two-wicket win away to Tutbury seconds.
With the weather looking rather ominous, play commenced after a couple of very heavy showers and the game was reduced to 36 overs per side.
Michael Skelham won the toss for the visitors and elected to bowl on what looked a lively green surface – and the skipper struck an early blow, bowling the Tutbury opener in his second over.
However, this bought home captain Yasir Thathall to the crease, who was in devastating touch and instantly found the boundary.
At the other end, Skitrall was not finding the going easy, playing and missing on a number of occasions before Ben Brown eventually had him caught behind for a fortunate 30.
None of the Uttoxeter seamers Skelham, Adam Johnson, Rory Middleton or Ben Brown truly found their rhythm on what was a very damp surface and made bowling very difficult.
The introduction of spin though was Skelham’s moment of genius as youngster Gavin Hall continued his very good early-season form with the ball, showing terrific temperament and understanding of the situation to stem the flow of runs.
Jan Kasperowicz joined Hall to bowl in tandem, with Tutbury looking to accelerate their innings to devastating effect as he skittled through the order.
Clearly bowling spin with such a wet ball was going to be difficult and yet Kasperowicz rolled back the years to lift his side.
The big wicket came when he tempted Thathall down the track looking for another big shot, only to turn one past the outside edge, allowing Tom Hall to whip off the bails to stump him for an excellent 76 – which included a number of huge sixes.
At one stage in the innings a score of 180 was looking likely with the manner in which the captain was batting.
But wickets continued to tumble, with Hall taking two, he and the deadly Kasperowicz – who returned superb figures of 6-16 – managed to restrict the home side to 155 all out in the 36th over.
Skelham decided to promote Tom Hall to open the batting with rain still looking likely to ruin a chance of a result, in the hope of quick runs.
This was starting to look a wise move as Hall went after the Edgerton brothers’ opening attack.
But it was Ashley Young who surprised most as, normally the rock to which an innings is built around, he decided the best method of defence was attack and uncharacteristically went after the bowlers, punishing any width or short balls with some exquisite cuts and pulls.
Tom Hall fell for nine but the scoreboard was already ticking along nicely and Uttoxeter had showed their intent.
Tony Hayes batted at three and, like the openers soon found scoring easy, as he and Young continued to dominate the attack.
Young did eventually perish leg before for a very well made 31, but his innings had set the tone for the innings and the game was well poised.
Johnson came in at four and carried on where he left off the week before, hitting a couple of boundaries, only to top edge one for 15 to bring Brown to the crease.
Brown and Hayes really got the bit between their teeth, with the latter launching a massive six off Simon Edgerton, only to fall a few balls later lbw, and could consider himself unlucky with the ball appearing to be going down the leg side.
After a solid start, Uttoxeter had all of a sudden lost four wickets, and Tutbury started to fight back.
Brown was in no mood to allow that though, hitting the bowlers all around the ground with immense power.
He struck three fours in one over, all driven like a rocket through the offside.
Brown was well supported by the younger Gavin Hall, accumulating singles to allow Brown to be destructive at the other end.
With Uttoxeter 23 runs from victory, Brown was bowled for a well-made 49, only for Hall to perish caught in the deep both of Simon Edgerton, who ended his spell of bowling with figures of 5-53.
Marcus Mellor and Kasperowicz started to settle the ship but in doing so the pressure built and Kasperowicz was caught at point.
All of a sudden Uttoxeter were seven down with 15 runs still required to win.
Tutbury were further encouraged when they had Mellor caught behind and with captain Skelham and Middleton at the crease, the game hung in the balance.
Skelham was in defiant mood though, and was waiting for the right deliveries, which came in quick succession.
He finished the game with a flurry of superb off drives over the top for four, much to the delight of the visitors in the 29th over as it looked for a moment that the game was going to slip away.
Next week, Uttoxeter entertain Rolls Royce leisure at Abbotsholme as Wood Lane is unavailable due to the race meeting.
Uttoxeter seconds brushed aside Brailsford thirds and dreadful weather conditions on Saturday afternoon to cruise to a 10-wicket victory and consolidate pole position in Division Nine South.
Skipper Dave Whitehead won the toss and asked the visitors to bat first on a wet and blustery day at the Racecourse.
Brailsford made steady but slow progress, reaching 60 for the loss of fourwickets in the 21st over before the rain intensified, forcing the sides from the field for the first of two extended breaks.
Dave Hunt took 3-16 from 10 overs, whilst Dave Powell-Jones ran out danger man Andy France with a direct hit from square leg.
With dark rain clouds surrounding the ground, play eventually resumed with Dave Whitehead introducing slow bowlers to speed up the over rate.
That paid immediate dividends, with Jim Malkin being particularly effective in taking three wickets (including two stumpings by Ed Browne) in a 15-over period of play before the teams had to take refuge from the rain once again with the visitors at 100-8.
After tea, the covers were removed once again to see Brailsford quickly dispatched for just 101, with only Will Pickering showing any real resistance – carrying his bat for a rather fortunate 53.
The Town side looked to score quickly in their reply and after a steady start Ian Bailey in particular got into his stride with some lusty blows in his 66 not out.
He was very well supported by Stan Maxwell (26no) as they romped home in just 18 overs, just in the nick of time as heavy rain started to fall as the winning runs were taken.
Uttoxeter will look to extend their excellent start to the League campaign when they visit Hartshorne next Saturday.