Cricket: Skegness 229 for 9, Bracebridge Heath 234 for 4

Pete Houghton on his way to 83.
Pete Houghton on his way to 83.

A century partnership between Pete Houghton and Jamie Epton meant Skegness were competitive at high-flying Bracebridge.

But it wasn’t enough to stop the seasiders slipping to another defeat.

Struggling on 59 for four it looked as though it was going to be an early finish for the visitors at Cross O’Cliff Court but the fifth wicket stand of 123 between Houghton and Epton added some respectability to the score and helped set a target that at least posed a few questions.

With batsmen like Paul Cook and Brett Houston at the top of the order for Heath the seasiders needed early wickets.

Cook departed in the 13th over, but Nick John and Houston picked up the baton and Nathan Poundall hit a quickfire half century to see the home side over the line.

Skegness started with a stutter, losing Saeed Bariwala in the fourth over for a duck. Ricky Lovelace made 16 and Jarrad Hoskin 28 but when Norman Brackley was removed by Matt Carter first ball, things were looking bleak for Skegness.

Slowly but surely Houghton and Epton began the repair job, carefully playing themselves in. They did have 30 overs left when they came together so there was plenty of time.

And with ten overs remaining they picked up the pace, looking to post a more challenging total.

Houghton finished with 83 from 76 balls, but was caught by Cook on the long off boundary when he tried to hit Mark Fell back over his 

Epton appeared more circumspect in his approach, particularly at the start of his innings, but Bracebridge soon found out his strengths when he flashed a couple of fours through the covers.

Dan Milgate and Paul Butler supported Epton well, but all three fell to catches off the bowling of Cameron Hall. Epton skied a simple chance to Houston at long on just after completing a well-constructed half century, Milgate was unlucky to see a fierce swipe snapped up by John in the covers and Butler was superbly caught by the diving Vikram Atri at point.

So the two Seans, skipper Chamberlain and Aussie Williams, joined forces to clinch the seasiders’ fifth batting point.

Williams faced just 14 balls for his 20 runs before being stumped by Carl Stubbs on the last ball of the innings.

The home side never looked to be under pressure during their innings and were always up with the rate.

Cook hit six fours and a six before hooking Williams down the throat of Hoskins on the square leg boundary in the last over of the bowler’s first spell.

But that simply brought the powerful all-rounder Houston to the crease. He set about the Skegness bowling with a variety of shots around the ground, which the visitors found difficult to set a field to.

With John a steadying influence at the other end, the partnership added 88 before Houston smacked a drive straight back towards bowler Brackley. He diverted the ball against the stumps with John out of his ground.

Atri was next to go. Having just hit a boundary, he middled a drive which Hoskin dived to his left to gather in style.

Nathan Poundall and Houston put on 55 for the fourth wicket before another catch in the deep by Hoskin sent Houston back to the pavilion for a well-earned rest.

Bracebridge Heath continued to keep up with the rate and in the 47th over, needing just two runs to win, Poundall hit a straight six to win the match and complete his 50.