UTTOXETER’S back-to-back promotion push gathered pace on Saturday as they dispatched visitors Derby Congs with relative ease in a five-wicket win at Wood Lane.
Stand-in captain Adam Johnson (pictured) won the toss and elected to bowl on what looked a lively, bouncy pitch.
And his decision was justified as Ben Brown started superbly with the ball, bowling with aggression to make both opening batsman uncomfortable, and giving them both a proper working over with the short ball.
Johnson reaped the rewards of Brown’s efforts softening up as he bowled one towards Awais Hanif’s ribcage, and he could only glove down the leg side for Tony Hayes to take a comfortable catch.
Johnson welcomed Kafeel Hussain to the crease with a fast bouncer that thundered into the grill of his helmet.
Brown collected the next three wickets – firstly dismissing the gritty Waheed Ali, caught behind for only one, before finding the edge once more to remove Hussain to give Hayes his third victim.
Ashley Young was on hand at backward point to snaffle a good catch to give Brown impressive figures of 3-31 off his nine overs.
Johnson (1-13) was replaced by Gavin Hall, who rattled through four overs for only seven runs but with no breakthrough, while Rory Middleton was seeing some good movement through the air and off the pitch at the other end.
Jan Kasperowicz continued his terrific form with some cunning deliveries, and bowled Umar Farooq for 22 just when he looked like he and Navneet Thandi were leading a fight back for Derby Congs.
Kasperowicz instantly struck again, dismissing Thandi for 24, again caught by Hayes, before having Dilraj Gill stumped off the very next ball.
Jon Millward replaced Middleton and claimed the last three wickets, with Hayes gathering a further two catches behind giving him seven dismissals for the game – a truly remarkable effort.
The innings came to a close with Milward trapping Hassan Khan lbw to bowl the visitors out for 108 in the 40th over – Millward finishing with 3-12 and Kasperowicz with 3-23.
Brown and Young opened the innings for Uttoxeter with a modest total in sight.
However, with the weather threatening, they proved to be rash with the bat, and could not have got off to a worse start, with Brown bowled by Khan for two and Young dismissed for one, caught by Hussain, again off Khan, for one.
Gavin Hall, batting at three in the absence of Mick Hall, got off the mark with a trademark straight drive to the boundary while Johnson elected to go the aerial route, bludgeoning the opening bowler back over his head for a huge six off his very first ball and continued to latch onto anything too full or too short.
Hall then fell as he attempted to drive over the top but hit the floor in the process and lobbed a simple catch up to Farooq to give Khan his third victim.
Johnson had a few scares as he went about his attack clearly intent on getting the match finished in quick time, hitting six sixes and three fours on his way to another half-century.
Hayes was looking like a man back in form, hitting a beautifully timed cover drive to the fence and then lifting Sajid Aziz back over his head for a one bounce four.
Johnson hit Thandi for six over mid-wicket and then long on before he squandered a chance to see his side to victory as he mistimed another big shot to be caught for a quick-fire 57.
Mellor came and went for a duck caught behind off Aziz before Millward helped Hayes see the game home with Hayes ending up unbeaten on 24 and Millward unbeaten on ten.