Blagdon Park picked up their second victory of the campaign with a 6 wicket win over newcomers to the league Whickham in the Northumberland Cricket League Premier Division.
Four wickets from skipper David Gibson put the visitors on the back foot as they were all out for 129. Blagdon knocked off the total with 21 overs to spare, Sam Eyres top scoring with 30*.
At a cloudy Bull Arena, Whickham won the toss and elected to bat on what looked a typical Blagdon wicket. Opening batsman Adam Clark returned to the side and the expense of David Simpson.
Angus Johnson and Ben Cuthbertson took the new ball, Johnson getting his usual shape away from the right-handed batsman with Cuthberston bowling a probing line and length.
Runs were difficult to come by, only a couple of miss-fields allowing to tick the scoreboard over. The frustration soon told as Mick Armstrong (4) lofted a ball from Cuthbertson into the waiting hands of Elliott Leybourne who took a clean catch at Mid-On.
The very next ball Cuthbertson struck again, finding the outside edge of the visiting captain Lee Hargreaves, the ball carrying to Gibson at slip who took a regulation catch.
A close run out call in the next over should have seen the back of Joshua Warner, but his innings came to an end just a few balls later as Johnson bowled him with fantastic swinging delivery to leave Whickham on 15/3.
Scott Richardson joined opener Jeff Bowman at the crease, and the pair set about rebuilding the visitors’ innings with some patient batting, which saw the introduction of spinners Alistair Clark and captain Gibson.
Alastair Clark struggled early on, relieving the pressure on Whickham with two boundaries in his first over. The economical Gibson bowled a tight line, with the old ball gripping and causing the batsman problems.
Clark soon got into a rhythm and picked up the wicket of Richardson just before the break, catching the outside edge with Gibson taking a deflected catch of the gloves of the wicketkeeper Stuart Dick.
Left-Handed Matthew Rodger came in at six for Whickham and steadied the ship with some watchful play alongside Bowman, the score 65-4 at the drinks break.
In the first over after the break, Blagdon struck again through the fielding of Sam Eyres, a direct hit after Rodger had sent back Bowman turning down a quick single saw the opener depart for 25.
A strong partnership from Rodger and Lawrence Davey saw the visitors regain some resemblance, passing the 100 mark without further damage before a flurry of wickets ended the innings.
Davey went LBW to Gibson for 19 before Rodger (29) followed soon after, dancing past a sharp turning off-spinner from the Bulls captain, Dick whipping off the bails, Gibson struck again two overs later, another LBW decision against Gerhardt Badenhorst.
At the other end, left-arm spinner Matthew Senior’s short spell produced no wickets, so Alastair Clark returned and immediately struck, Daniel Davison tickling one into the gloves of Dick who took the catch.
Gibson then bowled Oliver Cooper for 2, reducing Whickham to 129 all out from 41.5 overs.
Due to an unfortunate incident during the interval, Blagdon were forced into a change in the batting order with Leybourne suffering an allergic reaction, which later settled down, but saw Mark Foster partner Adam Clark.
The latter got the Bulls off to a flying start, reaching 17 before lobbing a chance to mid-on off the bowling of Badenhorst. David Johnson followed later in the over for a duck as he failed to get forward to a full ball.
Senior joined Foster at the wicket, but the introduction of Warner saw the end of Foster as he was given out LBW for 15. Captain Gibson joined Senior at the crease and the pair combined some elegant stroke play with watchful defence.
Senior was beginning to accelerate the run rate, but played one shot too many to Badenhorst and chipped a half volley to mid-off to leave Blagdon with over 50 still to chase with six wicket remaining.
The powerful Sam Eyres strode to the crease and took is time to get accustomed to conditions. Gibson, meanwhile, began to open up, the talented batsman rotating the strike with ease.
Eyres began to up the ante, hitting some spectacular drives down the ground off both spin and seam.
Only an errant sweep by Gibson gave the visitors a sniff of a fifth wicket, the ball dropping agonizingly short of deep square leg.
The winning runs were struck with 21 overs to spare, a fine performance from Blagdon Park, who sit third in the table.