B Division previews: Crunch for Thors and Shobrooke + Ottery challenge for leaders

THORVERTON and Shobrooke Park meet at Station Road with relegation at the back of their minds.

Shobrooke Park moved away from the relegation places in the B Division when they defeated Tavistock by 28 runs.

Shobrooke are now 25 points clear of the third relegation place with four games to stay there.

Thorverton eased their relegations worries considerably with a crushing eight-wicket win over fellow strugglers Braunton.

Had they lost it Thorverton could have been dragged back into the bottom three. Winning gives Thorverton a 22-point safety margin between them and the drop spots.

The real pressure appears to be on South Devon and Braunton, the two teams immediately below Thorverton.

Bottom side Dartington & Totnes are resigned to the drop, which will be confirmed if they lose to Tavistock.

However, as South Devon have to play Shobrooke and Thorverton in the last three games, both of them can get dragged back down if results go against them.

“We are not safe yet, but winning our last three games has definitely improved our position,” said Thors’ skipper David Baldock, who won’t be playing this Saturday.

“We still need two more wins in my view and I would like to get one of them this Saturday.

“Beating South Devon is going to be crucial to us and until that is out of the way I won’t feel comfortable.”

Paul Fielder will captain the side in the absence of Baldock. Paul Stirling is poised to keep wicket, relieving Fielder of doing two jobs.

Opener Jamie Khan is not available so John Farley steps up from the  2nd XI.

Shobrooke have Will French, a handy lower order bat, coming up from the 2nd XI. James Beavan is away,

Skipper Chris Simpson wants to turn things round against Thorverton after a patchy run against them.

“Thorverton have had the wood over us the last few years, we need to turn that around,” said Simpson.

“Our boys have had some big wins - Plymstock and Tavvy 0 in the second half of the season but need to be more consistent and get a bit of a roll on happening,

OTTERY are back in the thick of the B Division promotion race thanks to a seven-wicket win over Dartington & Totnes.

The Otters have been wobbling in recent weeks as defeats by Bideford and Tavistock cost them a share of third place.

Beating D&T has put Ottery third in the latest table, just four points behind second-placed Plymstock.

Ottery visit leaders Ivybridge this Saturday and a win there will send out a message of intent to promotion rivals Plymstock and Bideford.

Ivybridge welcome back Peter Abraham for Paul Veale in an otherwise unchanged side.

The Bridge are four games away from A Division cricket for the first time – and Ottery present a real obstacle to getting there.

“We will need to bat better than we did at their place earlier in the season before it was rained off,” said skipper Kelvin Trent.

“It's bound to be a close game and we are going to have improve on our performance from last week to win the game.”

SOUTH Devon – at home to Plymstock - are hanging on to their B Division status by a thread after dipping to a three-wicket defeat away to leaders Ivybridge.

Divan Marais hit a top score of 120 not out off 119 balls for South Devon in their total of 186 for seven.

Ivybridge hauled themselves over the line with five balls to go after being given a big scare getting there – Harry Solomon making 52 not out.

“It was another game we should have won, but we just don’t have the depth to push on and win,” said skipper Martin.

South Devon are 25 points shy of safety with four games to go – Shobrooke, Thorverton, Ottery and second placed Plymstock this Saturday.

Martin said he would feel more conident about staying up if he wasn’t making three of four changes every week.

“All we can do is keep trying and see what happens as I know availability is up and down for the last four games,” said Martin, who is without opener and spinner Dave Knowles this week,

BIDEFORD face Braunton in a derby clash with something on it for both teams.

Braunton need a win to move away from the drop zone.

Bideford want to bounce back from their defeat by Plymstock and stay in the promotion race.

“We have got to raise our game because Braunton will be fighting hard,” said Bideford captain Paul Heard.

Steve Bond comes in for Martin Stewart