MARTINSTOWN 181-4 (20pts) beat STALBRIDGE 179 (5pts) by six wickets

MARTINSTOWN took a giant step towards Dorset Funeral Plan Premier League safety with a crushing six-wicket victory over relegation rivals Stalbridge at Lower Ashton Farm.

Sam Kershaw’s team possessed a 31-point gap to their opponents prior to the match but crucially boosted that margin to 46 with just three games remaining.

In overcast conditions, Stalbridge elected to bat after winning the toss and skipper Stuart Sweatman duly got the visitors off to a flying start, crunching 36 off 27 balls including three sixes and two fours.

When impressive teenage quick bowled Jamie Stewart (5-17) claimed the all-rounder’s wicket, Stalbridge never recovered that blistering momentum as Martinstown continually made inroads into their line-up.

Chris Read (2-57) and Kershaw (2-40) chipped away before Stewart’s pace demolished the away tail, bowling three more victims and having last man Matt Coleman (5) caught as Martinstown bowled the visitors out for 179.

Two rain delays had reduced the contest to 42 overs a side, meaning Martinstown required just under 4.5 per over to win.

After the early loss of in-form Sean Williams (1), Ed Nichols (24) saw off Sweatman (0-25) before falling to Seb Carty as Martinstown reached 52-2.

Brilliant half-centuries from George Pope (51) and Kershaw (53) put the hosts back in control at 144-4 before Tom Pope (31no) and Dave Herbert (13no) guided Martinstown home with five balls remaining to complete a precious win.

Kershaw felt at ease during the successful chase.

“It was quite a well-paced chase, I always felt comfortable,” he said.

“It’s definitely a score where a couple of wickets early on really sets you back. Ed was fantastic, he didn’t score the most runs but we knew Sweatman was their best bowler and he nullified him completely.

“For him to take no wickets was ideal. We said at the start we’d take him out of the game, even if he goes for 10 runs off 10 overs, we’re happy with that. Myself and George really pushed it on and it all fell into place.”

On the relegation fight, Kershaw added: “The pressure is completely off us, we can relax and maybe try a few different things out in the last couple of games.

“Maybe bring guys in from the twos who are knocking on the door, see how they get on.

“Jamie taking five wickets – he’s a 16-year-old lad bowling late 70s, knocking on 80 miles an hour – he’s really good and got the big wicket, came back on and cleaned up the tail.”

Elsewhere, Martinstown Seconds beat Abbotsbury by three wickets, while Martinstown’s under-19 side continued their impressive form with two wins at Beaminster’s Memorial Ground.

The Villagers hit 131-6 to beat Beaminster by 64 runs before compiling 154-8 in a 74-run triumph over North Dorset.


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