SKEGNESS opener Pete Houghton played through the pain to bat his team into a match-winning position against Sleaford.
Houghton had been an injury doubt after taking a close range shot in the ribcage the previous week against Hartsholme.
But he recovered in time to turn out for the leaders at Richmond Drive, much to the delight of his skipper, Saeed Bariwala.
“At first it was thought he had a broken rib, but Pete’s a tough lad and he worked hard to get himself fit,” said Bariwala.
With youngster Jamie Epton his opening partner, Houghton rode his luck and punished the visitors for dropping him early in his innings with a stylish 88 runs.
It turned out to be quite a comfortable victory for Skegness, but it should have been much more so.
Sitting pretty on 135 for 1, after being put in, the seasiders could have been expected to have batted their opponents out of contention.
But some poor shot selection from their batsmen saw them lose three wickets without adding to the total and their last nine for just 62 runs.
They had been on target for a total of 250-plus, but the collapse even left them short of their fourth batting point.
Kiwi all-rounder Oliver Pringle supported his fellow left hander well during a partnership that fell just short of three figures when Houghton was adjudged lbw with the 102nd ball he faced.
The scoreboard showed 135 for 2 and there were plenty of overs left for incoming batsmen to build partnerships and secure maximum batting points.
But Pringle departed shortly afterwards, leaving two new batsmen at the crease.
And when Luke Enderby trapped Sean Chamberlain first ball the young bowler was on a hat-trick with Skegness on 135 for 4.
Bariwala and Adrian Gordon put on 47, but both departed in quick succession to poor shots, leaving new batsmen Paul Butler and Tony Santini to pick up the baton.
Santini failed to trouble the scorers before hitting an easy catch to Tom Shorthouse at mid-off and Butler ran out of partners, stranded on seven not out, as Alexander Sears cleaned up the tail to finish with five wickets for 55.
Skegness made an early breakthrough with Bariwala juggling a catch at gully to dismiss Chris Morris and then Matthew Mountain fell to a smart slip catch by Sean Chamberlain off Pringle.
With wickets falling around him, Sleaford skipper Oliver Burford used his experience to hold his team’s innings together.
But his team mates struggled to find an answer to the consistent bowling of Pringle, who finished with figures of five wickets for 44.
Seeing partners perish at the other end, Burford finally fell to Paul Butler for 52 in the 40th over.
After the game, Pringle came in for praise from his captain. “He had to bowl into the wind, but continued to show what he is made of by taking five wickets,” said Bariwala. Match sponsor: Herrick Watson.
On Saturday, June 30 Skegness travel to seventh placed Market Deeping for a 12.30pm start.
Skegness – P. Houghton, lbw b Burrows, 88; J. Epton, ct Shorthouse b Sears, 5; O. Pringle b Endley, 33; S. Bariwala ct Brewster b Sears, 20; S. Chamberlain lbw b Endley, 0; A. Gordon ct & b Goacher, 27; P. Butler not out, 7; T. Santini ct Shorthouse b Goacher, 0; M. Chamberlain, b Sears 2; M. Santini ct Mountain b Sears, 1; L. Taylor, b Sears, 0: Extras 14, Total - 197 all out.
Bowling – A. Sears 15-1-55-5; S. Burrows 12-0-57-1; T. Shorthouse; 3-1-16-0; N. Goacher 9-0-32-2; L. Endley 10-1-30-2.
Sleaford – M. Mountain, ct S. Chamberlain b Pringle,2; C. Morris ct Bariwala b Gordon,5; P. Sneath ct Bariwala b Pringle, 8; T. Shorthouse, b Pringle, 22; W. Brewster, b Bariwala, 13; I. Burford ct M. Santini b Butler, 52; C. Burgess ct M. Santini b Pringle, 3; A. Sears lbw b Pringle, 0; L. Endley ct Epton b Bariwala, 13; S. Burrows, b Gordon, 8; N. Goacher not out, 1: Extras 15. Total – 143 all out.
Bowling – A. Gordon 10-0-46-2; O. Pringle 17-0-44-5; S. Bariwala 10-0-44-22; P. Butler 22-0-7-1.
Skegness (18pts) beat Sleaford (5pts) by 54 runs.