Peterborough Town’s timing was perfect today (May 21).
Town sealed a nine-wicket Northants Premier Division win over Brixworth at Bretton Gate just before the rain started to fall, and just 15 minutes before the start of the FA Cup Final, although whether or not the latter was a good thing was soon open to question.
The city side, half of whom jumped into a car to drive up to Northumberland for a Minor Counties game, and to avoid Louis Van Gaal-style football, were further cheered by rain arriving in Northampton to wash out games involving top teams Old Northamptonians and Rushden.
As a result Town head into next Saturday’s contest at reigning champions Rushden 10 points clear at the top.
Their own victory, once an important toss had been won by skipper David Clarke, was only threatened by the weather forecast, and by a stubborn ninth-wicket partnership of 66 which steered Brixworth from the nightmare of 40-8 to 115 all-out.
Peter Caunt (49) and Ross Mclean (11) chewed into valuable time before part-time bowler Tim Young, introduced to help speed up another lamentable over rate, broke the partnership with the help of a smart catch by Jamie Smith.
Earlier paceman Joe Dawborn (4-30) returned to something like his best form, while Smith (3-16) also bowled with accuracy and penetration in helpful atmospheric conditions. Mohammed Danyaal picked up a wicket in his first over, and would have snared Caunt early in his innings, but for a dropped slip catch, while Lewis Bruce conceded just 13 runs in his 10 overs and that included a six into the foundations of a new indoor tennis centre.
Bruce has also adopted a Graeme Swann-style ‘on-his-knees’ appeal which failed to work until Caunt was unfortunately dismissed just a minute after his Brixworth team-mates had incorrectly applauded his half century.
Clarke (48no) pulled and glanced impressively to steer his side home in just 20 overs, while Butt (34no) also looked in good touch. Brixworth made the mistake of dismissing Ajaz Akhtar (10), who doesn’t possess the array of shots his team-mates’ own, after an opening stand of 52 with his skipper.
Town didn’t have a lot to spare weather-wise when the finishing line was reached.
F. Newborough c Milner b Dawborn 15
T. Worthington lbw Dawborn 3
J. Bowers b Dawborn 0
J. Lucas lbw Smith 2
W. Thomas c Butt b Smith 5
H, Timm b Dawborn 0
P. Blakemore c Young b Smith 2
M. Bell b Danyaal 1
P. Caunt lbw Bruce 49
R. Mclean c Smith b Young 11
G. Napier not out 2
Bowling: J. Dawborn 15-5-30-4; J. Smith 8-0-16-3; M. Danyaal 7-1-21-1; D. Sayer 3-0-13-0; L. Bruce 10-3-13-1; T. Young 3-0-13-1.
D. Clarke not out 48
A. Akhtar lbw Bell 10
A. Butt not out 34
TOTAL (1 wkt) 116
Bowling; G. Napier 7-1-47-0; R. Mclean 5-0-8-0; M. Bell 4-0-34-1; W, Thomas 3-0-19-0; J. Bowers 1-0-3-0.
Oundle lost for the third time in five Premier Division matches and have slipped too close to the bottom for comfort.
A nightmare start at Finedon undid them as they were 4-4 after just five overs with Ben Graves, Jack Bolsover, Pete Foster and Mark Hodgson all dismissed.
From there Oundle batted with great spirit as skipper Bashrat Hussain (45), Tshepo Moreki (36) and Phil Adams (21) dug in to help post a respectable 156 all out. Hussain struck two sixes and five fours in his 52-ball innings.
But Finedon were always in control of their replay and scooted home for the loss of five wickets in just over 30 overs, making light of persistent rain in the final overs. Northants first-class staff man David Murphy top scored with 41, while young slow bowlers Graves and Bolsover picked up a couple of wickets apiece for Oundle.
Moreki, a classy seamer, bowled just two overs.
Oundle 156 (B. Hussain 45, T. Moreki 36, P. Adams 21, P. Patel 6-50, J. Carroll 2-13).
Finedon 157-5 (D. Murphy 41, J. Bolsover 2-31, B. Graves 2-39).