DORCHESTER 215-6 (8pts) lost to MARTINSTOWN 218-6 (18pts) by four wickets (revised target 218)

MARTINSTOWN hauled themselves back into the Dorset Funeral Plan Premier League title race with a stunning four-wicket win at champions Dorchester.

At the same time, Dorchester’s hopes of securing a hat-trick of titles hang in the balance.

James Dunham’s men claimed eight points to reach the summit but their new lead over nearest challengers Poole Town is only six points – Poole crucially holding a game in hand.

Martinstown, in third, are now 24 points behind Dorchester and play Poole on Saturday.

This brilliant contest was interrupted slightly by rain, meaning only 40 overs per side were possible.

When play began, there were four half-centuries in total – two coming from Dorchester.

READ MORE: Dorset on back foot at Berkshire

Seb Carty had constructed a superb 74 from 118 balls to help Dorchester recover from 89-3 after the in-form Charlie Durant had removed Eral Anderson (37) and Simon Mitchem (1).

Carty and new man Dan Belt then feasted on some short bowling, compiling a stand of 122.

Belt had bludgeoned 79 from 50 balls, including four boundaries and three sixes, before the duo went in consecutive balls to Town skipper Sam Kershaw (2-39).

By then, Dorchester had a good total at 211-5, which became 215-6 at tea when Jamie Stewart trapped Jamie Barrett (1) lbw.

Martinstown’s reply began typically positively despite the early loss of Steve Gerety (15), with Kershaw (17) joined by Dorset under-18 star Will Maltby.

Maltby struck 28 in a 44-run stand with his captain before Jon Legg (1-36) rattled Kershaw’s timbers.

His wicket brought Sean Williams to the crease and, together with the brilliance of Maltby, Town began to take the fight to Dorchester.

Maltby launched Jamie Barrett for three huge sixes over cow corner as punishment for pitching too short.

He brought up a sublime half-century before Dorchester skipper Dunham came in for harsh treatment, Maltby taking 14 from an over.

Maltby looked set to record a swashbuckling century until he skied a catch to Legg off Simon Mitchem (2-42) having scored 80 from 69 balls.

At 168-3, Dorchester sensed blood as Mike Peak (2-28) bowled Williams for a well-crafted and fluent 51 before Mitchem had Hayden White (3) stumped by Nick Roe.

Town now needed 44 runs with five wickets remaining and two new batsmen, but stuck to their task doggedly.

Big-hitting Tom Pope (15no) and Fraser Hill (15) got the visitors over the 200 mark until the latter holed out to Rob Nobbs in the deep off Peak.

Edging into the final over, with nine still needed, Jamie Stewart (13no) crunched a four and hit the winning runs with two balls remaining to ignite the Martinstown travelling support.

Speaking after securing a first-ever win at Dorchester Rec, Kershaw told Echosport: “We felt we didn’t give ourselves the best chance with the ball.

“Charlie was unreal and so was Dave Trotter (0-12 from eight overs), don’t get me wrong.

“We brought it back towards the end and it wasn’t an easy track to bat on.

“We thought if we stayed within 10 of the DLS score we’d be fine. Then when Will came in we felt good.

“Will showed his class again and he’s going to be knocking on the Dorset door now.

“Sean was key to get runs in the middle, he’s dropped down to four this year, and they put on a 100 partnership.”

On 17-year-old Maltby, he added: “He hits the ball all over the park now.

“He used to use pace, whereas now he’s a 360 player.

“What he brings in the field is like 10 men and if he sticks with it, Dorset will be looking at him. He’s just a great guy to have in your team.”

Dunham, whose side lost to Town for the first time in five games, said: “It was a good game when we played them last time and this was better.

“Overall, fair play to Martinstown. We fell short.

“It’s a tricky one because we batted first and kept coming off for rain. It only added three runs to the target, which was strange.

“We wanted around 215, that was the target we set, so we were happy at halfway.

“But they batted very well and chased it down nicely.”

On the title race, Dunham said: “We’ve got to keep fighting but I think it’s going to be very difficult now.

“It doesn’t mean that Poole can’t slip up again, I know Martinstown are closer to us as well.

“It’s only good for the league, good for local cricket.”

Elsewhere, Dorchester Seconds beat Shillingstone by 41 runs in County Division Two, while Dorchester Thirds lost by six wickets to Marnhull Thirds in County Division Five North & West.

In County Division Three, Martinstown Seconds lost by 23 runs to struggling Cranborne.