HEATHCOAT are within touching distance of their first Tolchards Devon League Premier Division title after beating Exmouth by 17 runs in a low-scoring affair on the Maer.
What was a 17-point lead over second-placed Paignton at the top of the table has now widened to 28 points as the Seasiders’ game against North Devon was rained-off. All the chasers earned was six points.
If Heathcoat win the derby clash with Sandford this Saturday, it is hard to see how Paignton will claw back the deficit in the last two rounds.
Jackson Thompson, the Heathcoat captain, said Paignton’s misfortune may have benefited his side, but the job is not done yet.
“Paignton not getting a game in really does help our case massively but that's how things go sometimes,” said Thompson. “We need to still take one game at a time.”
Heathcoat, who have never finished higher than third (2016, 2018) since joining the league in 1978, were bowled out for 109 in the 37th over on what became a damp day on the sea front.
Opener Rob Holman made a patient 45 off 95 balls, Liam Lewis was next best with 22 against one of his old clubs and no one else got more than 11.
James Edworthy (3-11) shaded Alvin Pollard (2-24) and Ben Ellis (2-19) in the Exmouth wicket-taking stakes.
“The pitch looked a belter so we decided to bat, but when the rain came it made it quite tricky to play normally,” said Thompson.
“Exmouth bowled and fielded really well and used the conditions excellently. We learnt a lot from the way Exmouth bowled at us so decided to replicate the same.”
Thompson’s teatime pep talk was about self-belief and whatever he said worked.
Exmouth slumped to 13 for three in reply – Jamie Drew (2-15) and Malcolm Cloete (3-15) among the wickets – then ‘recovered’ to 40 for four with Ellis (12) and David Lye (23) making runs.
Lye hit five fours – three of them in the first over from Thompson.
Drew broke the stand by bowling Ellis, wickets tumbled and with Jack Menheneott and Thompson spinning out two each Exmouth were dismissed for 73.
“All the bowlers nailed their plans,” said Thompson.
“Jack Menheneott used the wind and pitch excellently and accounted for Lye's wicket (47-5) which was the turning point. Jamie Drew was superb again as well.”
SIDMOUTH’S lower-order batsman came to the rescue with a match-winning stand to set up a two-wicket win over Exeter.
Exeter made 155 for nine in a game rescheduled to 42 overs each due to bad weather. Josh Arendse made a top score of 43 and Harvey Sargent was next best with 23 against his former club.
Young bowlers Jash Patidar (3-41) and Jordan Fowler (4-25) showed that Sidmouth’s next generation is coming along nicely.
Sidmouth raced to 100 for two in reply – Alex Barrow (53) and Luke Bess (29) the men of the moment - and at that point it seemed like a routine assignment.
Exeter spinner Dominic Tuohey had other ideas and his five-wicket haul helped send Sidmouth reeling to 121 for seven.
Help arrived in the shape of eighth-wicket pair Tom Simmons and Charlie Miles, who got the target down to five to win. Miles was still there on 25 not out when Max Hancock hit the winning runs.
Tom Pedel, Exeter’s disappointed captain, said: “We lost the toss and were put in to bat in tricky conditions.
“We were maybe 30 runs short of posting the total that we wanted.
“As Sidmouth were 87 for one in reply, to nearly bowl them out defending 160 was a great effort.
“Dom Tuohey bowled outstandingly for his five wickets.”
BOVEY Tracey took a hesitant step towards Premier Division safety when they defeated fellow strugglers Torquay by 13-runs at Ashburton Road.
The game very nearly did not start at all due to bad weather and when it got under way there was just enough time available to play a 20-overs-each game.
Bovey opener Brian Chari made 28 then former captain Peter Bradley plundered 56 off 36 balls in a total of 121 for four.
Torquay were 66 for three at halfway – Chris Kelmere (24) and Elliot Moses (20) getting them started - and history suggested they should go on to win from there. They didn’t.
Chari (3-17) and former Devon captain and off-spinner Chris Bradley slowed Torquay to a crawl and with a succession of dot-balls that forced the asking rate up.
Torquay’s target was 34 from four overs with five wickets in hand and they fell short on 108 for nine.
Torquay are stuck fast on the bottom for another week and are 16 points shy of safety.
Bovey moved out of the bottom two and an added bonus was that fellow strugglers North Devon were rained off against Paignton. They only collected six points and have fallen back into the second relegation place.
Bovey are far from safe yet and with Paignton (2nd), Heathcoat (top) and Plymouth (4th) to play could not have planned a tougher run-in.
They are moving in the right direction though, which clearly cheered skipper Toby Codd.
“It was a relief to finally get a win,” said Codd.
“The game could have gone either way and credit to Torquay and the umpires for persisting with the weather and getting a game on.
“In the game we showed a lot of fight and character to get a result.
“We need to take that spirit into the final three games and guarantee safety.”
Torquay have Plymouth and Exmouth (6th) on the next two Saturdays before a last-day encounter with North Devon that has the smell of a relegation decider.
: : The game between North Devon and Paignton at Instow was cancelled due to a waterlogged playing surface.
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