Pinchbeck travelled to Boston Mayflower on Saturday to take on Boston 3rd in a top-of-the-table clash in the South Lincs & Border Cricket League Division Two.
Second-placed Boston were looking to make inroads into Pinchbecks 20 point lead and avenge a close defeat in the previous meeting of the sides, whereas Pinchbeck felt they had something to prove after struggling against a Boston side containing only eight players in that game.
Both captains were keen to bowl first on a green, well-grassed wicket which had taken a fair bit of rain in the preceding days, but it was Boston who won the toss and sent Pinchbeck in to bat.
Home stalwarts Ian Morris and Shaun Moore opened the bowling and kept things incredibly tight early on, Morris claiming the wicket of Matt Kidd as Boston began with 4 consecutive maiden overs.
In previous years Pinchbeck might have collapsed utterly at this point, but this is a team which has rediscovered its spirit in the last year, and there was a notable lack of panic from Nick Crook and Mark Ramsden as they dug in and gradually started to move the score along. Pinchbeck were admittedly fortunate to see a couple of straightforward catches go down, but continued to bat with increasing assertiveness.
It was a surprise then, when Ramsden was stumped for 16 – dragged forward by a beautifully-flighted delivery by Moore then sent on his way by a sharp piece of keeping from Ben Newton. The score was 27/2 from 14, Morris and Moore still had plenty of overs to bowl, and Pinchbeck were running out of proven batsmen already.
Captain Danny Jackson, however, had other ideas. The first ball he faced disappeared for a sweetly-struck boundary, and several more followed in the next few overs as the Boston openers finally showed signs of fatigue.
Their replacements, whilst game, were not as experienced and released pressure with a regular supply of boundary balls and extras as Pinchbeck began to accelerate. Crook had to this point barely troubled the scorers, yet he now came alive and began to play some lovely drives, feeding off the impetus provided by Jackson before taking over as the main aggressor.
It was a surprise when Jackson fell for 33 in the 31st over, but he and Crook had done an excellent job and laid a platform from which the middle order could attack.
Sam Green was next in and obliged with a rapid 16, but other than a typically-busy cameo from James Langford, the rest of the team failed to contribute much.
Crook meanwhile, serenely moved beyond 50 as wickets began to tumble at the far end, and reached a well-made 62 before being bamboozled by a wonderful ball from the returning Moore.
Pinchbeck reached a credible 168 on a wicket that had provided a much more even contest between bat and ball than had been expected before play, yet both sides felt it was an above-par total and Boston would do well to chase.
Shaun Moore was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 12-4-33-5, Morris 11.4-4-30-3, as the home side made an excellent comeback to claim all 10 wickets, dismissing Pinchbeck in the 45th over.
After a cracking tea, Pinchbeck took the field feeling confident. Jackson sprang a surprise by opening the bowling with Nick Crook, hoping his personal friendship with opening batsman Rowan Evans might cause the Boston captain to lose concentration.
However the first 10 overs after the interval seemed to pass Pinchbeck by somewhat, as sloppy bowling and a couple of tough drops seemed to drain their intensity, allowing Evans and fellow opener
Ben Newton to help themselves to regular boundaries and race along at 6 an over – a sharp contrast with the previous innings. Rob Goulding caused much amusement by receiving a warning from the Umpire for swearing, after creatively expressing his emotion at botching a run-out attempt.
Andy Beeston was introduced into the attack in the 7th over and immediately swung the game, removing Newton in a wicket maiden. He struck again in his 3rd over, trapping Moore lbw for a duck, but Evans and extras continued to drive the scoring and Boston were now taking control of the game.
Evans was batting well – in the early overs he had scored heavily from lofted straight drives. When fielders were placed to cover this, he instead took a liking to carving Langford over third man and clipping Beeston to leg.
He was joined by former Spalding player Tim Norris after Langford removed Fogg, and the pair were building a useful partnership and staying well ahead of the run rate until Beeston bowled Evans around his legs.
The batsman was unlucky, but Boston continued to play shots and retained the momentum for several overs more until a wonderful piece of fielding by Tom Richardson-Woodward changed the game decisively in Pinchbeck’s favour.
Jackson had replaced Beeston (9-2-30-3) and bowled two tight overs, but began his third with a hideous long hop, which the classy-looking Norris pulled viciously for a certain boundary.
But no, out were thrust the legendarily-unreliable hands of ‘Roland’, who caused bedlam amongst the away ranks by taking a stunning catch behind him to his left at square leg. Jackson claimed another wicket in the over when Crook took another impressive catch, running backwards at mid-wicket, and the target suddenly looked distant for Boston.
Pinchbeck were now all energy. The ground fielding was excellent and Langford came to life, removing the Boston lower-middle order towards the end of an increasingly-impressive spell.
After Liam Bent struck him for a second four, Langford produced the perfect response to trap him lbw in his final over, finishing a marathon contribution with 12-2-39-3. Boston were 9 down at this point and now the game was up, Ian Morris decided to go down swinging.
Jackson however, tied him up until the 5th ball of the over, when Morris ended a close game played in good spirits, by skying to a tumbling Frost at long on. Jackson finished with excellent figures of 5.5-2-15-4, Boston were all out in the 35th over for 134.
Pinchbeck were noticeably delighted after a win which puts them 31 points clear with a game in hand over Boston, and beginning a run of home games with the visit of bottom side off Uffington on Saturday.
Boston will hope to regroup and rebuild their title challenge against Sleaford on the same day.