Heathcoat one point away from first league title

Jackson Thompson - Heathcoat

HEATHCOAT are in touching distance of their first Premier Division title after a nail-biting, five-run win over Sandford.

Beating Sandford was a step in the right direction, but not enough on its own to make the title dream a virtual reality.

Relegation worriers Bovey Tracey did Heathcoat a huge favour by defeating second-placed Paignton, effectively ending the Seasiders’ own title chances.

Heathcoat are now 39 points clear at the top of the table with two games to go and 40 points to play for.

All Heathcoat need against Bovey Tracey this Saturday is either two wickets or 50 runs to earn the point that will seal the title.

The title is so close now Heathcoat skipper Jackson Thompson feels it is as good as in the bag.

“As it stands it feels great to rest the case on who is the best team in the league,” said Thompson.

Heathcoat were all out for 185 in the last of their 50 overs. Runs were hard to come by in testing conditions so knocks of 26 from Peter Randerson, 32 from Callum French, Liam Lewis’ 27 and Malcolm Cloete’s 25 were more valuable than they seemed.

Sandford seamer Trevor Anning (3-22) found the conditions to his liking. Jamie Palmer and Chris Jelley had identical figures of two for 37.

Sandford, whose priority is staying out of the bottom three, are probably still wondering how they managed to lose the game.

Opener Ryan Glass (28), Harrison Jones (63) and Anning (27) got Sandford up to 144 for five with 10 overs to go and Jones was one of the not-out batsmen.

If there was a tipping point in Heathcoat’s favour it was Jones being run-out while batting with Chris Simpson, which left Sandford 152 for seven.

Sandford reached the last over needing nine to win with one wicket left and reduced it to six of the last three balls.

Jamie Palmer went for glory with a big hit down the ground, but Thompson had a man on patrol in the country who pouched the match-winning catch.

“We came within four yards of the six runs we needed to win the game,” said Sandford’s rueful skipper Richard Foan.

The post-match summing-ups from the rival captains differed massively, which may be a reflection of their places in the league table.

Thompson said: “It was close but the gulf between the two sides could not have been wider.

“We batted first on a tricky wicket due to inclement weather throughout the week.

“Sandford had the best of the conditions to bat and yet we were in the game for the most part.

“They plinked a few in the gaps and were very fortunate in getting anywhere near the total, but we kept on charging and believing in ourselves that we can win from any position.

“Harrison Jones played well for Sandford.

“All the bowlers bowled to a plan and executed them well. Our fielding was especially good.”

Said Foan: “A great game of cricket and everyone was gutted to be on the wrong side of the result.

“After last week’s loss to Plymouth it was a really good, all-round performance.”

“To push the team who are top of the league like that shows we can perform against anyone and hopefully that continues in the last two games.”

Sandford are at home to outgoing champions Sidmouth this Saturday.