Slinfold climbed back to the top of Division 4 at the halfway stage in the season with a last-gasp win in a rain-affected game at West Chiltington & Thakeham.
Guy Thorne’s side lead the table by five points from second-placed Rye with what he described as a ‘massive 30 points’ from their 122-run win, which looked to be heading for a draw.
Batting first with unreliable weather around, the visitors reached 228-8 off 52 overs. Opener Shaun Beegan made 80, Akeem Jordan hit 45 as did fifth-man in Thorne, while Dan Graycon added a late 23. In the bowling attack, the slow left arm of James Howgate took 3-62 for Chilt as Jake Hodgson also claimed 2-29.
Rain took the Chilt win out of the equation as their reply was reduced first to 46 and then 36 overs. Jordan removed overseas Sanchit Batra early on, before Jack-Elliott Monday (28) and Eddie Miller (17) pushed them along to 66-5.
While Howgate (25) and Tim van Noort (10) were together, the game was meandering towards a draw but once Howgate was removed, Slinfold pounced.
Pressure on the lower order increased and when van Noort was last out with seven balls remaining, Slinfold had bagged the 30 points with Thorne taking 6-22. Chilt’s young side are now without a win in three games and instead of looking up are now just one point above Henfield in the relegation zone, while Slinfold are well in the title race.
Thorne said: “We haven’t played against West Chilt for a few years, and I was impressed.
“They are a fantastic club, with some excellent young players, and great facilities, and I think they have a very bright future in the county league and we wish them well.
“It’s a lovely deck over there, so I had no hesitation in batting first despite the cloud cover and rain being forecast – I just thought it looked a 200-plus pitch if we batted the overs.
“Shaun Beegan went on to score a superb patient 80 and batted most of the innings to hold our score together.
“Myself and Akeem both scored quick 40s again, solid contributions, but again slightly disappointed that starts have not turned into big scores. In reply, I’m honest enough to say the rain ruined any opportunity West Chilt had to try to win the game in the second half, and rain reduced their overs from 46 to 36, and it certainly changed their mindset and approach – which is inevitable.
“A draw definitely looked the most likely outcome, but we had to believe we could bowl them out in 36 overs on a good batting deck.
“We did everything we could to force a win. Pleasingly I got on a decent run, we crowded the bat with close catchers and got the ball turning, and I finished with decent figures.
“We still needed four wickets with 4-5 overs remaining, so to get through those final batters and seal a 30-point win knowing they bat pretty much all the way down was a great feeling. It’s a massive 30 points for us so we are delighted.”
West Chilt coach van Noort said: “Clearly they’re a good side but when the overs got reduced, we let that eat away at us and they capitalised.
“We should have been good enough to get the draw but it’s only halfway and there’s little to choose between any of the teams.
“Our goal is consolidation this season and I don’t believe that’s changed.”
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