Bovey Tracey were holding on to top spot of the Francis Clarke Devon Cricket League by their fingernails after losing to Exeter by six wickets and seeing Exmouth win at Bradninch to draw level on points which puts them nominally second on games won.
Bovey were bowled out for 170 by Billy Searle, the son of one of their former players Arnie, a member of the Bovey team who won the Premiership for the first and only time in 2002.
Searle took 6-32 to put the skids under Bovey while Adam Gribble, who played with Searle senior in that title-winning team, sent down 10 miserly overs for 22 runs and Merryck Steward’s 0-29 off 10 maintained the pressure on Bovey, whose leading run getters were Ben Ayres (38), Sam Wyatt-Haines and Lewis Hammett (27).
Exeter knocked off the runs with 11 overs to spare and were always on the front foot after Andy Curtis (42) and Blake Reed (26) have them a 64-run start.
Bradninch inched closer to the drop zone when Exmouth beat them by 33 runs. Devon pair Seb Benton and Trevor Anning both hit half-centuries as Exmouth made 259 for six in their 50 overs. Bradninch were 92 for four at half way in reply having just lost James Street for 11.
Although Ross Acton gave it a whack – his 57 came off the same number of balls – Bradninch were too far behind the clock to catch up and closed on 226 for nine.
Fellow strugglers Torquay were also defeated, going down to Sidmouth by 168 runs leaving them three points ahead of Bradninch.
Cornwood boosted their survival prospects thanks to a three-wicket win over bottom club Budleigh Salterton having lost three in a row since winning at Torquay a month ago. They remain in the bottom two, but the margin between them and safety has closed right up.
Cornwood’s man of the moment against Budleigh was Pakistani all-rounder Asif Raza, whose 4-34 with the ball ripped out the Otters’ middle order as the visitors slowed to 209 for eight. Asif then steered Cornwood home with the bat, compiling a businesslike 75 not out to clinch victory with eight balls to spare.
Plymouth skipper Matt Hooper said his side contributed to their own downfall at North Devon, where they slipped to a five-wicket defeat.
Zimbabwean Glenn Querl has reappeared at Instow for the second half of the season and he was the difference between the two sides, taking 3-27 as the city side were held to 192 for nine on 50 overs.
Plymouth were then on the end of an unbeaten 94 from Querl as they recovered from a nervous 85 for five to win with more than seven overs to spare.
Said Hooper: “It was a disappointing defeat and a hard one to take as I felt we had chances to win the game. North Devon bowled well but I felt a lot of our batters got starts and then unusually didn't take it on."