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Bracebridge in seventh heaven

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For the seventh consecutive year, Bracebridge Heath were confirmed as Readers Lincolnshire ECB Premier League champions maintaining their unbeaten form in 2009 with a 71 run defeat over Grimsby.

After a slow start to their 2009 campaign, Mark Fell's side found their table-topping habits threatened by Skegness but in the final six weeks, the challenge fell away while Bracebridge upped their game to leave their opponents in a shell-shocked whirl and take the title by a whopping 41 points with Skegness in second place and Louth third.

Playing at Cross O’Cliff Court, Fell won the toss and elected to bat paving the way for Paul Cook, who has contributed a hefty 781 runs to their campaign in 2009, to make a half century, smashing 73 from 67 balls with 13 fours.

Opener George Neal made a patient 39, adding 42 for the second wicket with Brett Houston and 49 for the second with Cook.

Neal became Grimsby keeper Steve Crossley’s 29th victim of the season when he was caught off Matthew Cocks after which Cook and Tom Khoza shared the best partnership of the innings, adding 60 for the fourth wicket which pushed Bracebridge to 189 for four with six overs to go.

Khoza’s 24 came mainly in singles as he gave Cook valuable support until the number four fell to an athletic catch by Paul Taylor at point off Gihan Perera who went on to take three wickets with his off-spin, including that of Khoza.

Crossley claimed his 30th victim with a smart catch off Gary Tillison to dismiss Aaron Onyon and with an over to go, the home side had 213 on the board and seven wickets down.

But Steve Warman guaranteed them maximum batting points with 14 off five balls and the innings ended on 231 for seven.

Onyon was soon in action with the ball, taking a wicket in his second over and working in partnership with Houston, reducing Grimsby to 55 for four.

Geoff Middleton batted sensibly for his 25 which helped the score to 81 but the middle order was weakened when Michael Brown had to retire hurt after attempting to bat through several blows on the arm.

Tillison (27) and Cocks shared the best partnership, putting on 46 for the seventh wicket to take Grimsby to 144 but Onyon returned to the attack and despite Brown returning at the fall of the ninth wicket, the visitors were all out for 160, Onyon taking 6-31 off his 16 overs to put him level at the top of the league’s wicket tally.

Sharing that slot with Onyon is Lindum skipper Matt Rutherford who managed only one wicket in his side’s home match against Louth, for whom Arran Brindle opened with Jim Morgan.

This partnership put 43 on the board before Brindle was caught off Stuart Turner, bringing Nuwan Shiroman out to join Morgan in a stand of 51.

Morgan just missed out on his half century, falling to a catch off Karanjit Bansal for 46 and when Matt Crowther was run out after ending up at the same end as the Sri Lankan, Louth were 101 for three.

Graham West (39) was next to the crease for a partnership of 80 before Turner struck again and by the time Shiroman also fell to Turner for 86, the score had reached 203 for six.

Just three more runs were added before Graeme Bell was run out off the final ball of the innings.

Lindum had 22 on the board when Stewart West bowled Bansal and had only reached 25 when Graeme Bell bowled Alex Hornsby.

Bell also dismissed Pierce Morley-Barnes to make it 39 for three and by the 12th over, Lindum found themselves 55 for five.

But Harry Dunn was going well and he and Rutherford pulled their team back into the game, adding 78 before Dunn was caught off Jon Darke for 46.

When Rutherford was bowled by West for 35, Lindum needed 54 for victory off nine overs and Richard Bishop and Dale Christie inched the total ever closer to the target.

Christie fell to a stumping off Shiroman with the score on 185 but it was the running out of Bishop that swung the match back Louth’s way and the final wicket fell on 194 with an over to go, West with four wickets.

After a couple of lean weeks, Andrew Crook got back to form for Woodhall Spa as they took on Market Deeping at Outgang Road.

Crook and Warren Nel put on 176 before Nick Cowley took Deeping’s first wicket – Nel stumped for 78. Crook then lost three more partners before Woodhall reached the 200 mark but the arrival of Ben Percival at the crease saw a fifth wicket partnership of 42 and at the close Woodhall were 267 for five, Crook unbeaten on 146 to take his total runs for the season to 1118, 20 short of the league record.

Deeping also started well, Jonathan Wright and Richard Witt sharing a partnership of 66 before Crook dismissed for Witt for 43 then, with 92 on the board, bowled Wright for 29.

Charlie Kearns and David Gillett added 67 and this time it was Nel’s turn for success as both were caught off his bowling, Kearns for 39 and Gillett for 34.

Tom Andrews then chipped in with 23 before Crook struck again with a wicket and a run out. By this time, Deeping were 202 for six but Crook still wasn’t finished, taking a catch off Jack Luffman then a caught and bowled to make it 223 for eight.

Nel then stepped in to finish things off as Deeping were all out for 230, Crook and Nel with four wickets each and Crook also claiming three catches and a run out.

At Sleaford, having won the toss and invited their opponents to bat, Skegness were set a target of 227 for six. Dammika Gunawardena and Jonathan Miller each made 51 for the home side with James Rickett adding 35 and Tony Edwardson 36.

In reply, Paul Butler took three wickets for the seasiders who were soon in trouble after Sam Burrows dismissed Saeed Bariwala for a duck and Carl Wilson for three, both caught by Nick Goacher.

Nathan Docker (37) and Sean Chamberlain (55) steadied the ship and skipper Wade McCall followed them with an innings of 44.

But Skegness continued to find the going tough and despite a late unbeaten 20 from Charlie Walker, had to settle for a losing draw with 213 for nine, Burrows and Goacher each finishing with four wickets.

Nettleham suffered mixed fortunes over the weekend when they played the two bottom sides on consecutive days.

On Saturday, Caistor were the visitors to Mulsanne Park where they elected to bat, only to lose four wickets for 45 runs, two of them to Jack Bayliss.

This brought Mark Gowshall out to join James France and this pair added 106 runs in just 15 overs, France reaching his 50 off 56 balls before being bowled by Matt Smith for 65.

Gowshall and Jim Parker had taken the total to 174 when Gowshall was caught for 58 off Paul Cook who inflicted the same fate on Parker who made 43. Nick Dobbs was run out for 22 and the innings ended on 250 for eight.

Nettleham got off to a much better start, Sam Hickingbotham and Paul Cook sharing an opening partnership of 81 and Cook and David Manby (28) then added 45 before Cook was caught off Nick Warmoth for 74.

At this stage, the home side were still up with the run rate but after James McKay also fell to Warmoth for 25, wickets went at regular intervals and at the close Nettleham had reached only 216 for eight, Matt Smith unbeaten on 24 and Warmoth with four wickets.

On Sunday, Cook and Smith opened against Messingham and went on a run spree, putting on 201 in 33 overs. Smith was first to go, caught behind off Ben Brumby for 68 and in the same over Cook was caught for 117.

Manby (24) and McKay then took up the challenge, adding 44 and McKay and Colin Willerton (22) put on another 57.

When McKay was stumped off Matt Snee for 40, Nettleham were 314 for five and just eight more runs were added before the close.

McKay was soon in action again, taking the first two Messingham wickets without a run being scored and when Dave Dawson was run out and McKay took his third wicket, the visitors were 10 for four.

Andy Langford and Shaun Dalton restored some semblance of order to the innings but the best stand was between Snee and Brumby whose dogged resistance added 60 for the eighth wicket.

Brumby made 41 which included eight fours before being caught and bowled by Tom Dalton with the score on 100 and despite Snee’s efforts, Paul Cook took the final two wickets as Messingham were all out for 114, McKay with five for 14 off 10 overs.