Lions won’t get ahead of themselves in title race despite closing in on top spot

Cricket: Horsham (fielding) v Cuckfield. Mika Ekstrom. Pic Steve Robards SR1710816 SUS-170516-095625001
Cricket: Horsham (fielding) v Cuckfield. Mika Ekstrom. Pic Steve Robards SR1710816 SUS-170516-095625001

Michael Thornely says Horsham will not get ahead of themselves in the Premier Division title race despite sitting just eight points off the leaders at the halfway stage.

A convincing 71-run victory at Ansty on Saturday – their seventh of the season – saw the Lions move up to third in the table.

They defended their total of 196-8 after being asked to bat, with their hosts coming home with 125. It keeps an impressive-looking Horsham outfit well in the title race – seven points behind East Grinstead, with leaders Roffey ahead by one more.

Thornely, however, knows they have plenty of tough games to come against teams anywhere in the table.

He said: “We are eight points off the top, but there is lots of cricket left to play. We have big games coming up, but I do not think any game we have played this year has been easy.

“Games against teams in the bottom half have been hard, they have been playing tough cricket and getting results.

“The usual suspects, Roffey and East Grinstead, have the best bowling attacks in the league and are difficult to beat.

“We are taking each game as it comes and hopefully we will go into the league three or four games of the season still in the mix.

“Selection has been a bit of issue, I do not think we have had the same team for two games in a row so that has been a bit difficult.”

Horsham made the most of being inserted as a 54-run partnership between openers Ryan Maskell (51) and Matthew Green (24) was ended by Ansty bowler Jethro Menzies (3-21), as he bowled the latter.

Maskell then managed to control the strike taking the score to 94-3, by the time he and Thornely (one) were dismissed.

Glenn Anson (4-67) did some damage in the middle order with Tom Clark (17) the only of his four scalps to make double figures as Horsham fell from 100-3 to 134-7.

David Croshaw (26) and Sam Bell (28*) then added a 51-run stand for the eighth wicket, before Jonathan Whiting (five) helped the visitors to 196-8.

In reply, Ansty were left reeling after stunning spells from Mika Ekstrom (3-15) and Whiting (2-26), leaving the hosts at 16-4.

Christopher Barnes (16), Leo Anderson (10) and Jake Wilson (11) were the first to make double figures, before Michael Munday (3-26) got in on the act.

Sam Palser (42*) offered Ansty’s only real resistance with a late stand of 43 with Jack Palmer (19) taking them past the 100 mark in the nine wicket. But with Palser bowled, Nick Oxley (2-38) saw off the tail as Ansty finished with 125 in the 34th over.

Thornely added: “It was a shocking wicket. I thought with 175 we would probably be comfortable with them having to chase that. Ryan Maskell played really well for his 50 and then got out but it was a good opening partnership, before we lost a few.

“Sam and David put on a late 50 together and played really well and with 196, we felt very comfortable it was going to be enough.

“When they were 16-4 it was never going to be much of a match. They put on an extra 30-odd at the end, which made the result look a bit better.”