It’s been a weekend of woe so far for Peterborough Town.
Outplayed by the 10 men of Rushton CC in the Northants Twenty/20 Cup on Friday (June 24) and under-performing again against title rivals Finedon in a Northants Premier Division clash yesterday (June 25) to lose by two wickets.
Both matches were staged at Bretton Gate, a fortress in the recent glory years, but which is now currently home to slow, low pitches which couldn’t be less suitable to the strengths of Town.
That’s an excuse rather than a reason for two frustrating displays though. Rushton’s dominance in an eight-wicket win - the second successive season they’ve knocked Town out of the T20 competition since the city side’s glorious run to the National semi-finals - was eye-opening.
The visitors played with just 10 men - they started with nine - and yet simply taking all the pace of the ball in the field was enough to flummox the home side who slipped from 75-3 to 105-9 once a decent stand between top scorers Lewis Bruce (29) and Tim Young (22) had been interrupted.
But yesterday’s defeat will hurt more. Twenty/20 success is a bonus for Town. It’s league titles they want, but they will have to improve their displays considerably, especially when faced with the stronger teams in the league.
Town and Finedon started the day level on points in second place, but the city side finished it 18 points behind their conquerors who scrambled to a significant victory given that leaders Old Northamptonians saw their game at Rushton abandoned after just six overs.
Finedon bowled with impressive discipline and took advantage of a lack of consistency in the Town attack when they batted. They deserved their win with Town’s fight and determination only causing a few minor palpitations late in the day.
Town shook up their misfiring batting order and grafted their way to 62-1 before Asim Butt, who had looked in great touch, was trapped in front for 31.
Leg-spinner Chris Todd then bagged four cheap wickets as Town crashed to 95-8 before Marcus Howard (23no) and Ryan Evans - called up from Castor CC for the day after David Sayer withdrew with an injury - dragged the hosts up to 136 all out.
Finedon were reduced to 27-3 and 63-5 in reply, but Town bowled so many bounday balls they won with 12 overs to spare.
The loss of professional Paul McMahon - a frustrated spectator yesterday - to injury has started to hurt. Town have lost three of their first 10 Premier Division matches for the first time in five years - all to the other teams in the top four.
Northants Premier Division
T. Young c Campden b Goode 26
A. Akhtar c Hofbauer b Hodgson 4
A. Butt lbw Nunn 31
D. Clarke c Davis b Todd 2
L. Bruce c Hofbauer b Nunn 10
M. Howard not out 23
C. Milner lbw Todd 1
J. Dawborn c and b Todd 4
M. Danyaal c Hofbauer b Todd 4
R. Evans run out 12
J. Smith c Nunn b Goode 5
Bowling: E.Hodgson 11-2-32-1; C. Goode 12.5-3-32-2; A. Nunn 15-3-45-2; C. Todd 10-2-26-4.
E. Cox lbw Smith 7
S. Davis lbw Dawborn 8
G. Evans lbw Smith 6
C. Berrill lbw Bruce 23
G. Hofbauer c Milner b Dawborn 46
D. Brierley b Danyaal 2
A. Campden not out 16
C. Todd c Danyaal b Dawborn 1
A. Nunn c Evans b Bruce 7
C. Goode not out 5
TOTAL (8 wkts) 139
Bowling: J. Dawborn 14.4-2-53-3; J. Smith 7-0-21-2; L. Bruce 11-3-44-3; M. Danyaal 4-0-19-1.
Oundle picked up a handful of points from their abandoned game at Horton House thanks mainly to a terrific stand of 128 for the sixth wicket between youngsters Ben Graves (86) and Jack Bolsover (45).
They won’t have been pleased with a first win of the season though for bottom club Wellingborough. Wellingborough are 21 points behind Oundle at the foot of the table.
HORTON HOUSE v OUNDLE abandoned
Oundle 196-9 (B. Graves 86, J. Bolsover 45).
Northants Twenty/20 Cup
Peterborough Town 105-9 (L. Bruce 29, T. Young 22, J. Higginbotham 2-13, B. Armer 2-21, R. Henry 2-22, J. Parmar 2-23).
Rushton 108-2 (R. Henry 40no, M. Jackson 35no).