THE ECB Premier League title has been thrown wide open by the sound beating of Skegness at the hands of Bracebridge Heath.
For the second time this season Bracebridge showed they were in no mood to relinquish their crown when they gave the Seasiders a lesson in making the most of their opportunities.
Yet again the leaders paid dearly for dropped catches to allow the visitors to amass 198 from their 50 overs.
And in response a batting collapse saw the home side reduced from 73 for three to 76 for eight as Jonathan Darke ploughed through their middle order.
The Heath’s Brett Houston (57) did the damage with the bat after being dropped at slip early in his innings, while Darke proved to be the pick of the bowlers. His six wickets included three in one over.
The Seasiders got off to a great start with Oliver Pringle tempting Jason Trembath to nibble outside his off stump in the second over and Adrian Gordon took the catch in the slips.
In Pringle’s fifth over James (Hymie) Bentley presented the kiwi with his second wicket. His misjudged pull shot went straight back into the hands of the grateful bowler and things looked rosy for the home side.
But Heath have great depth in their batting and the sight of Houston and skipper Paul Cook at the crease understandably causes concern for most bowlers in this league.
They put on 42 for the third wicket before Cook was caught by Kirkham off the bowling of Skegness captain Bariwala.
But it was the fourth wicket stand of 79 between Houston and Vikram Atri that turned the game back in Bracebridge’s favour.
Set a target of four an over, Skegness lost Bariwala on 5. The seasiders needed another big innings from Pete Houghton if they were to get back into the game.
With Adrian Gordon at the other end Houghton set about rescuing the situation and between them they put on 48 before Darke dived to dismiss Gordon with a sharp catch off his own bowling.
When Chamblerlain departed lbw on the last ball of Darke’s third over the Skegness innings was beginning to wobble, but no-one could have predicted the carnage that was to follow.
Darke continued his excellent spell with the wicket of Houghton and with the next ball shattered Paul Butler’s off stump. He had Alistair Ainsworth caught behind with the last ball of the over, taking his figures to five for 13 off four overs.
When Darke bowled Paul Timby with the first ball of his next over he was on a hat-trick for the second time within seven balls and Skegness were reeling on 76 for 8.
The defeat, accompanied by Haxey’s win over Bourne, has trimmed Skegness’s lead at the top of the table to just seven points.
On Saturday, Skegness welcome Louth to Richmond Drive, starting at 12.30pm.
Bracebridge Heath - J Bentley ct & b Pringle 19; J Trembath ct Gordon b Pringle 0; B Houston run out (Timby) 57; P Cook ct Kirkham b Bariwala 18; V Atri b Gordon 47; S Fraser-Cattanach ct Santini b Gordon 15; D Whapplington b Bariwala 1; M Fell not out 13; J Darke not out 7; T Monson, did not bat. M Bradley, did not bat. Extras 21 Total (for 7 wkts) 198.
Bowling: A Gordon 14-0-67-2; O Pringle 10-3-28-2; S Bariwala 17-4-46-2; S Kirkham 7-0-35-0; P Timby 2-0-15-0.
Skegness - S Bariwala b Houston 1; P Houghton ct Bentley b Darke 36; O Pringle ct Houston b Bradley 3; A Gordon ct & b Darke 23; S Chamberlain. lbw; b Darke 4; A Santini ct Trembath b Fell 28; P Butler b Darke 0; A Ainsworth ct Bentley b Darke 0; P Timby b Darke 0; S Kirkham ct Fell b Bradley 2; M Santini, not out 6. Extras 16 Total (all out) 119.
Bowling: B Houston 7-0-28-1; M Bradley 17-5-43-2; J Trembath 4-1-14-0; J Darke 7-1-26-6; M Fell 0.3-0-0-1.
Results - Market Deeping 157-7 (Baxter 5-23), Boston 161-1 (J Cheer 106no); Bracebridge Heath 198-7 (Houston 57), Skegness 119 (Darke 6-26); Woodhall Spa 159-8 (Hegarty 60no, Bansal 5-46), Lindum 160-1 (Bansal 82no, Neal 52no); Grimsby 207 (Warwick 90no), Louth 189 (S West 62); Bourne 214-9 (Louth 75), Haxey 218-3 (Attenborough 132no); Hartsholme 203-9 (Rush 80no), Sleaford 204-7 (Burford 52).