CORNWOOD accomplished a great escape Harry Houdini would have been proud of when they won by six wickets at Sandford to dodge relegation from the Premier Division.
The Corns have been in and around the bottom two since the early weeks of the season and at one stage appeared racing certainties for the drop.
Wins over fellow strugglers Exmouth and Exeter in the final third of the season, coupled with some potentially advantageous cancellations against fellow strugglers Hatherleigh and champs-to-be Heathcoat, lifted Cornwood out of the drop slots with three rounds to go.
Beating second-placed Sandford ensured Cornwood finished seventh in the table of ten. Their safety margin was just 0.64 of a point which does not sound much but when amortised over a season comes out at between 11-12 points.
Four wickets for Elliott Staddon (4-25) and three more for skipper Jackson Thompson (3-17) had a lot to do with Cornwood dismissing Sandford for 159.
Sandford’s innings went in fits and starts from 79 for two – Sandy Allen (29) and Harrison Jones (26) the main run makers – to 98 for five then on to 149 for seven before it withered away.
Tom Williams (25) was the only batter in the bottom half of the order to make more than 15.
Cornwood had a disastrous start as Jones (3-51) and Josh King pegged them back to 25 for three in reply.
Max Finzel (29) and Ben Beaumont (34) stopped the slide with a stand of 49 and by the time Finzel was fifth out the target was 51 to win.
By the time Matt Skeemer fell for 37 to Ryan Glass the scores were level and Thompson (26no) fired off the winning boundary in the next over.
Thompson was a Premier-winning captain with former club Heathcoat in 2019 and said staying up felt just as good.
“The feeling of this win/escape is almost synonymous with winning the league in some ways and really shows the mental strength of the team to pull this out of the bag,” said Thompson.
“It was a great feeling to be able to come out the other end of the season knowing we gave it all as a team who were up against it from all ends.
“The lads put in the hard work in training and applied it in the games. It was a perfect example of every single person knowing exactly how they were going to make it happen for us. We had a clear game plan and a clear mind to execute those.”
Sandy Allen, standing in for injured Sandford captain Richard Foan, said: "Elliott Staddon bowled well and proved difficult to face. We were probably 40-50 runs short of a par total.
"Cornwood came out with intent and although we managed to get a couple of early wickets, Matt Skeemer and Max Finzel batted really nicely and got them within touching distance."