STALBRIDGE 246-9 (19pts) beat MARTINSTOWN 244-8 (12 pts) by two runs

MARTINSTOWN secured their Dorset Funeral Plan Premier League status for next year despite a tense two-run loss at Stalbridge.

Needing 10 to win from three balls, Matt Camp smashed a six and saw a dot ball before he could only hit a two from the final delivery.

Martinstown had decided to switch up their usual hierarchy, with Ed Nichols handing the captaincy to Sam Kershaw and Sean Williams also taking the gloves from Nichols.

Kershaw won the toss and elected to field in a decision that proved to be a masterstroke as Mike Kennedy-Barnard (4-21) tore through the hosts’ top order.

The seamer removed James Lewis and Josh York for ducks, Eddie Stevens (5) and Lewis Hunt (9) to reduce Stalbridge to 49-4.

But a superb 113 from Stuart Sweatman helped Stalbridge back into the game, with George Coleman (40) also weighing in with a solid knock as the home side reached 246-9 from their 50 overs.

In reply, Martinstown built steadily with Sean Williams (55) helping the visitors to a position of 71-1 until Nichols (19) perished to spinner Andy Dike (1-37).

But Williams found partners in Kershaw (20) and Teddy Andrews (53) as the away side drew closer to their target. At 170-3, Stalbridge fought back when Ollie Legg (1-52) bowled Williams.

And when Andrews fell to Hunt (3-48), his dismissal sparked a collapse from 201-4 to 224-8, leaving Camp and Jack Kane (8no) at the crease in the death overs.

But Camp, despite backing himself to score the winning runs, could only manage two from the final ball and was then run out as Stalbridge emerged victorious.

Speaking after the game, Nichols rued allowing Stalbridge back into the match after Kennedy-Barnard’s opening spell.

He told Echosport: “It’s the best I’ve seen Mike bowl this year – a really, really good display.

“But we dropped four or five catches in total and there were a few big overs that we just let get away from us. We just couldn’t really pull them back. From where we had them I think 240 was pretty disappointing.

However, Nichols was pleased with his side’s chase, and reserved praise for stand-in skipper Kershaw.

He said: “I’m really pleased with how we went about the chase. Sean scored a first league 50, and timed the ball beautifully as he always does.

“I thought Sam Kershaw did a great job and brought a fresh approach to it. I was really impressed with how he did.”