Skegness (19pts) beat Haxey (2pts) by 97 runs
Skegness outclassed champions Haxey with both bat and ball to complete a 97-run victory at Haxey Lane Playing Fields.
Having been put in to bat on a turning pitch, the seasiders missed out on one batting bonus point because they finished ten runs short of the threshold.
But the spin duo of Dan Milgate and Saeed Bariwala ripped through the home side’s defences to make sure all other bonuses were collected.
At one point it looked as though they might be frustrated by Haxey’s overseas player Josh Savage, whose patience laid the foundations for seventh and eighth wicket partnerships of 28 and 30. He hung around for 25 overs.
But for some inexplicable reason Shakeel Ahmed gifted Saeed Bariwala with his first wicket of the day on the last ball before drinks, thus resurrecting the seasiders’ hopes.
And when Bariwala snared Steeper lbw in the 37th over, the pressure mounted on Savage’s shoulders. His departure two overs later signalled the end for the champions and Bariwala put them out of their misery with the next ball.
The victory had been set up by the visitors’ best batting show of the season so far and the return to form of Pete Houghton, who joined Ricky Lovelace at the crease in the first over, following the departure of Bariwala.
Houghton and Lovelace put on 79 for the second wicket, Lovelace grinding out a true opener’s innings, while Houghton kept things ticking over at a run-a-ball at the other end before falling six runs short of his 50.
Lovelace again perished in the 30s, which brought the in-form Paul Butler to the wicket. He lost Jamie Epton as a partner with the score on 117 and two balls later Sean Chamberlain was walking back to the pavilion having been bowled by Mark Atkins.
But Dan Milgate helped Butler get the innings back on track.
The pair scored freely throughout the remainder of the overs, falling just ten runs short of clinching maximum batting points.
Milgate hit his 44 off 39 deliveries and Butler completed another well-deserved half century, smacking Paul Bell’s final delivery of the innings to the boundary.
Mark Atkins was the pick of the Haxey bowlers, with three wickets for 69 runs.
In response opener Fleet showed some signs of aggression, but he lost his partner Bishop during Milgate’s first over, a wicket maiden.
After Williams had demolished Fleet’s stumps and Milgate had removed Graeme Attenborough, the home side were struggling on 44 for 4.
Then a stunning catch from Epton in the slips off Milgate returned Stanser back to the pavilion.
Ahmed, Savage and Steeper gave Haxey hope of clinging on for a draw. Indeed there were five consecutive maidens as they blocked the seasiders’ progress but Bariwala cleaned up the tail.
Skegness will hope to maintain their winning run with a trip to newly-promoted Spalding on Saturday.
Skegness - S Bariwala, b Savage 2; R Lovelace, ct Steeper b Atkins 35; P Houghton, st Metcalfe b Attenborough 44; J Epton, lbw b Atkins 16; P Butler, not out 53; S Chamberlain, b Atkins 0; D Milgate, not out 44; R Hewitt, D Nuttall, J Hoskin and S Williams. Extras 21. Total (for 5 wkts) 215.
Bowling - J Savage 7-0-38-1; P Bell 8-0-33-0; G Attenborough 15-5-41-1; M Atkins 17-3-69-3; J Stanser 3-0-27-0.
Haxey - P Fleet, b Williams 17; D Bishop, lbw b Milgate 0; M Metcalfe, run out (Nuttall) 5; G Attenborough, b Milgate 9; J Stanser, ct Epton b Milgate 12; S Ahmed, b Bariwala 20; P Bell, b Milgate 9; J Savage, b Bariwala 25; A Steeper, lbw b Bariwala 14; E Tonks, not out 0; M Atkins, b Bariwala 0. Extras 7. Total (all out) 118.
Bowling - S Williams 5-1-16-1; D Milgate 17-5-56-4; S Bariwala 14.3-5-30-4; R Hewitt 2-0-10-0.