Sunday, 4 August 2019

Brilliant Belcher is unable to halt Horspath slide

Lloyd Belcher starred again for Horspath with 6-76.
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HORSPATH slipped deeper into the Home Counties Premier League Division 1 relegation mire despite Lloyd Belcher bagging another six-wicket haul in a battling draw at Finchampstead.

With Tring Park trouncing Datchet by nine wickets it means Horspath are now 17 points from safety at the foot of the table. Having put Finchampstead in to bat, Horspath bowled the hosts out for 235 with Belcher taking 6-76 from 22.5 overs well supported by Tom Cosford, who returned figures of 3-66 off 21 overs. 

Seamer Will Robertson, who had already bowled Greg Smith with a no ball, repeated the feat with a legitimate delivery in his next over to remove the Finchampstead opener for 19 with 26 on the board. Hampshire opener Oli Soames and skipper Dan Lincoln then frustrated Horspath, who gave a debut to 15-year-old Alfie Turner, by putting on 94 for the second wicket before Cosford took two wickets in as many balls with his off breaks.

Lincoln had just brought up his half-century with five fours and two sixes when he was caught by Mark Skelton for 52 off 58 deliveries, and then Cosford made it 120-3 by bowling Billy Rogers first ball. Finchampstead added nine more runs before lunch, and when play resumed Soames completed his fifty before Belcher took centre stage.

The left-arm spinner struck for the first time by snapping up a smart return catch with his right hand from a blistering Adam Dewes' drive to leave Finchampstead 141-4. Soames and Tommie Predgen took the score to 169 when the latter was caught by Liam Manley off Belcher, who then ended Soames's patient knock. 

The Finchampstead opener had made 72 from 117 balls with eight fours when he was caught by Dominic O'Connor to make it 183-6. Without addition to the score, Cosford claimed his third victim when Ryan Bone was caught by Manley.

Nine runs later, Belcher had Craig Hodges caught behind by Will Hawtin. But then the visitors were held up by Zac Jones and Connor Corlet (16no) with the pair putting on 43 for the ninth wicket before Belcher completed his fourth five-wicket haul of the season by bowling Jones for 26.

Two balls later, he wrapped up the innings with James Woodford caught by Robertson. It was the left-arm spinner's second six-wicket return of the campaign, taking his tally for the season to 32 to maintain his position as the top flight's leading wicket-taker.

However, when Horspath batted it was a familiar tale as they collapsed to 19-3. Robertson was caught and bowled without scoring by Corlet, who then trapped Kyle Hopper lbw first ball to make it 2-2, and O'Connor became Corlet's third victim when he was bowled for seven.

Cosford made a breezy 31 from 32 balls with five fours and a six, before he was caught by Smith off Hodges to make it 43-4. Stephen Green had made 16 when he also fell to Hodges, caught by Dewes as Horspath stumbled to 59-5.

Skelton and Will Hawtin saw Horspath to tea at 72-5, but just nine more runs had been added after the break when the former was bowled by Corlet for 15. Skipper Will Eason made 18 before he was caught by Lincoln off Dewes to leave Horspath facing defeat at 115-7.

But Hawtin and Belcher showed plenty of grit and determination to deny Finchampstead by seeing the visitors to the close at 149-7. Hawtin was unbeaten on 33 from 101 balls, with Belcher's 13 not out coming off 58 deliveries. Corlet led the way for Finchampstead with 4-34 off 14 overs, while Hodges picked up 2-29 and Dewes 1-14.

Posted by: Russ