The battle for the Hevey Building Supplies Northamptonshire League Premier Division title could take a decisive twist this weekend.
Last Saturday proved to be a fine one if you are associated with Finedon Dolben as they claimed a five-wicket success at Oundle while Old Northamptonians and Peterborough suffered surprised defeats to Northampton Saints and Horton House respectively.
Those results saw Finedon move nine points clear of ONs at the top with a game in hand.
The top two are now set to clash at Avenue Road this weekend with Dolben knowing a victory will put them in total control as they bid to win their first top-flight title since 2011.
But captain Callum Berrill is staying cautious and while he insists there is “great belief” within the Finedon camp, he knows there is still a lot of work to do.
“Yes, it is an important game,” the Finedon skipper said.
“At the same time, I am acutely aware that we still need to play all the sides that make up the top half of the division.
“There will be no easy games and hopefully this weekend will be a great advert for amateur cricket throughout Northamptonshire.
“As for our approach, we keep our game plan simple and try to do the basic skill sets well.
“We know what we need to do, it is simply a case of doing it!
“So far, we have put in some great performances this season and had great support as always.
“More importantly, we have enjoyed our time on the field.
“We have great belief in what we are capable of and know we are a good squad on paper, but in practice cricket is unpredictable.
“It’s one game at a time and we must be at our best if the title is to return to Avenue Road.”
While their nearest rivals were slipping up, Finedon produced a solid performance to seal their victory at Milton Road.
Drew Brierley (3-20) and Vicram Sohal (3-43) did the damage with the ball as Oundle were bowled out for 199 with Ben Smith (52), Mark Hodgson (49) and James Kettleborough (37) being the hosts’ main contributors.
In reply, a fourth-wicket stand of 110 between Jack Keeping (55) and Sohal (45) proved decisive as Finedon got over the line on 200-5.
“The team performed well, they set themselves high standards and work hard to maintain them,” Berrill added.
“I was pleased with the way we closed out the match and maintained control.”
Simon Renshaw struck a century as Desborough stayed on course for promotion to the NCL Premier Division with a 44-run success over Old Northamptonians 2nd.
Batting first, the Division One leaders put a big total of 287-4 on the board thanks in no small part to opener Renshaw’s 131 while Jason Marshall (55) and Jake Bindley (38) also made noteworthy contributions.
In reply, ONs gave it a go with Daniel Clarke (59) and Jack Newton (54) performing well but a good all-round effort with the ball, which saw all seven Desborough bowlers used taking a wicket, ensured they were dismissed for 243.
Desborough remain 15 points clear of Overstone Park after the second-placed side sealed a 56-
run win at Weekley & Warkton.
Vikesh Patel cracked 121 as Overstone were bowled out for 259 with William Patrick (4-30) being the pick of the Weekley attack.
Weekley’s reply was helped by no fewer than 59 extras but they were eventually dismissed for 203 with Premal Patel taking 3-39.
Loddington & Mawsley also remain in the hunt after they made short work of Irthlingborough.
Having won the toss, Irthlingborough elected to bat and they were promptly dismissed for just 150 with Jon Potkins (29) and Martin Hills (21) the only batsmen to pass 20.
The wickets were shared around with Nick Herbert (3-31) being the pick of the attack while Liam Flecknor, Simon West and Josh Plowright all took two wickets each.
The run chase was straightforward as openers Luke Hanley (62no) and Adam King (45) put on 99 for the first wicket before Jaymesh Patel (22no) joined Hanley to finish the job on 151-1 in the 27th over.