Cricket - Skegness 228 for 8, Bracebridge Heath 232 for 7

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IF there is such a thing as an encouraging defeat, this was probably it.

Skegness pushed champions Bracebridge Heath to the wire, playing their part in an excellent cricket match. It was a match they would have won had they taken their chances.

Statistics suggest this was the best ever performance by a Skegness side at Cross O’Cliff Court, but it did expose one or two areas for practise, most notably their catching.

The fact that they walked off the pitch disappointed by missing out on the victory speaks volumes though.

Fear can be very destructive when you are playing a team of Bracebridge’s stature. Maybe now they have put that behind them.

So often games at this quaint setting on the ridge south of Lincoln have ended by teatime, but the seasiders, who are currently sitting in second place behind new boys Haxey, made the champions sweat for their win.

Such was the spirit shown by the visitors that one home supporter was overheard saying he was considering making the 80-mile round trip for the return fixture. Praise indeed from supporters not used to such close encounters.

Catches apart, Skegness may also be concerned about the number of extras they are gifting their opponents. Seventeen wides and ten no balls were included in the extras tally of 40, undoing some of the good foundation the batsmen had erected.

Opener Pete Houghton continues to shine, following his century against Grimsby with a 68-ball half century. After partnering his skipper Saeed Bariwala to an opening stand of 68, the left-hander went on to make 67 before falling when the score was on the dreaded nelson.

All-rounder Oliver Pringle picked up the baton and continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, despite the best efforts of spinner Matthew Bradley, who finished the day with figures of five for 61.

Bradley had been instrumental in slowing down the Skegness innings, but there was nothing he could do to stop the in-form Sean Chamberlain racing to a 13-ball 34, which included four sixes.

Despite securing the maximum five batting points, some in the visitors’ camp felt it was still 20 or 30 runs short - and so it proved to be.

However, had they taken their catches, pressure could have been applied to the dominant force that Bracebridge Heath has become.

Failure in this department allowed the home side to build partnerships, including a 59-run stand between Brett Houston and Vikram Atri.

Houston’s contribution of 58 came off 72 balls, but it was innings of Paul Cook that proved decisive. He too escaped a scare early in his innings, and went on to make his opponents pay for dropping him.

However he was deprived of his half century when Skegness conceded five wides on the penultimate ball of the 48th over.

The Skegness bowlers shared the seven wickets as they secured three bowling bonus points.

On Saturday Skegness will be without Sean Chamberlain for their trip to Louth (12.30pm start). He is involved in a football cup final in Lincoln.

Skegness - S. Bariwala, c&b Trembath, 27; P. Houghton, b Bradley, 67; J. Epton, c Bradley, b Trembath, 2; O. Pringle, c Trembath, b Bradley, 50; A. Gordon, c Darke, b Trembath, 10; P. Butler, c Cook, b Bradley, 22; S. Chamberlain, not out, 34; A. Santini, c Cook, b Bradley, 4; M. Jackson, c John, b Bradley 0; M. Chamberlain, not out, 0; S. Kirkham, did not bat; Extras, 12; Total, 228 for 8.

Bowling - A. Carter 15-2-52-0; B. Houston 8-1-31-0; J. Darke 2-0-17-0; M. Bradley 13-0-61-5; J. Trembath 12-2-65-3.

Bracebridge Heath - N. John, b Gordon, 14; V. Arti, b Kirkham, 39; B. Houston, c Santini, b Kirkham, 58; J. Bentley c&b Bariwala, 10; P. Cook, not out, 49; D. Whapplingon, b Gordon, 7; J. Trembath, c Pringle, b Gordon, 7; J. Dark, lbw b Pringle, 1; M. Fell, no tout, 7; M. Bradley, did not bat; A. Carter, did not bat; Extras 40; Total - 232 for 7.

Bowling - A. Gordon 9.5-0-59-3; O. Pringle 12-0-57-1; S. Bariwala 13-3-46-1; S. Kirkham 13-2-57-2.