PORTLAND RT 200 (9pts) lost to MARNHULL 201-8 (20pts) by two wickets

PORTLAND Red Triangle relinquished their position at the top of County Division Two after a narrow two-wicket loss to Marnhull at Reforne.

Nearest rivals Compton House took full advantage of Triangle’s slip up, thrashing Ferndown Wayfarers by nine wickets at Dolmans Farm to retake top spot by just two points.

Portland, fresh from their exhibition match against Lashings Allstars one day earlier, batted first and were instantly in trouble when they lost skipper Matt Randell (0) and fellow opener Ray Emery (9) to Edwin Ralph (2-46) and James Vitali (4-14) respectively.

Simon Proffitt then scored 23 of a 29-run stand with Gary Randell (26) before he fell to the expensive Rob Vitali (1-66) as Portland reached 47-3.

But Randell found an ally in Callan Laws (45), the duo sharing 60 for the fourth wicket until Zach Caunt (1-24) removed Randell.

When Laws later became one of two victims for Nick Elsworth (2-9), Portland were on 117-5, which worsened to 117-6 when Elsworth had Cameron Midgley (0) caught.

A useful knock of 35 from Joe Adkins boosted Portland to 159-7 after his departure, before Matt Barrett (19no) cracked two fours and a six to help Portland over the 200 mark, with Vitali cleaning up the tail.

And Vitali was at it again in the Marnhull reply, sharing 123 with Caunt (48) in their opening partnership before Matt Randell bowled the latter.

Matt Barrett (3-50) then produced a sensational spell to remove Danny Harkin (4), George Cassidy (0) and Ashley Young without conceding a run to leave the visitors on 135-4.

Marnhull captain Edwin Ralph (34) then rallied with Vitali, scoring five boundaries and a six until Proffitt (4-35) bowled the opener for a fine 68.

Proffitt mirrored Barrett in taking three wickets for no runs as Portland upped the pressure, Elsworth (0) and Malcolm West (0) the batsmen to perish as Marnhull wobbled on 184-7.

Marnhull were rocked when Ralph was bowled by Proffitt, still 10 runs short of their target, but a match-winning partnership between Marcus Cundy (5no) and Stuart Cundy (3no) finally saw the away side to victory.

The battle for the County Division Two title could go to the wire, with a final-day thriller between Portland and Compton House looming large.

For now, Matt Randell’s side will turn their attentions to Sherborne Seconds at the Terrace on Saturday.


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