NORTON Lindsey and Wolverton’ss start to the 2018 Cotswold Hills season suffered a hiccup as the first XI became the first side to lose a league game.
The team made the short journey to Lapworth who were also unbeaten in their first three matches.
Norton skipper Martin Perfect won the toss and asked the hosts to bowl in glorious sunny weather.
However, the batting never got into gear and at 91-7 in the 23rd over, it looked like it would be an early finish.
Only Richard Pozzi (20) and Conor Green (22) had made double figures as Lapworth kept taking wickets.
Norton were then indebted to the lower order as Richard Blythe (18), David McInnes (35), Steve Bliwert (14no) and Andy Dewar (20) made sure that the tail wagged.
Nonetheless, the final total of 163 it was a much below-par total and would require a massive effort to restrict the hosts.
All the Lapworth bowlers were economical, the most successful being Haddon taking 3 for 26 off his 10 overs, and Mace 2-21 off two.
After tea, the visitors tried to apply pressure, but despite an early success for Pozzi, there were too many loose balls that allowed the score to tick along.
Pugh (34), Mason (41), and Arnold (38) kept the reply going and Lapworth paced the reply perfectly, passing the target in the penultimate over.
There had been a glimmer of hope when Green took two quick wickets, and a confident lbw shout soon after, but benefit of the doubt and momentum were in the host’s favour.
The result sees Norton slip to 4th place in the Premier Division, eight points behind leaders Long Itchington who are next week’s visitors to Wolverton Road.
The Seconds welcomed Temple Grafton for what proved to be their most demanding game so far this season.
Skipper Dan Fell lost the toss and the visitors elected to bat on what looked like a belter of a wicket.
Early exchanges were fairly even with the Norton bowlers applying good pressure, but the opener Kirk (15) was quick to punish any width.
At the other end, Killian (83) survived a shaky start when he was dropped at slip, and became the anchorman for the innings.
At 120-2 in the 26th over, it looked like Grafton had set themselves for a big score.
However, the introduction of Sunny Nijjar and then Steve Dellow turned the game around.
Nijjar removed Killian caught and bowled, the first of three such dismissals, and then Dellow had Kirk (31) caught behind as part of a double wicket maiden.
The rate then ground to a halt as the bowlers took complete control, with seven wickets falling for just 61 runs.
At tea, Temple Grafton had scraped to 181-9 with Norton just failing to take the final bowling point.
Nijjar returned the best figures, taking 4-26 off his 10 overs and Dellow finished with 2-22 off 7.
Liam Smith (35) and Nijjar (8) looked comfortable in reply, but the umpires were set to have a significant effect on the game.
Both Nijjar and Steve Rushton (0) were adjudged lbw, then mistakes by Smith and Dan Fell (23) left the score on 69-4.
Grafton’s tails were well up at this point and the pressure was on Norton to pull the game back their way.
The home side’s saviour was the talented James Robins (65no) who arrived in the middle to play his first innings of the season.
His confidence held the reply together, and with a succession of partners, moved steadily towards the target.
Andrew Dellow (18) and Ian Baber (19) provided good support and the line was crossed in the 40th over.
Robins completed the job in style hammering the bowling of earlier hero Killian for 34 in just 2.3 overs, and finishing with a flat six into the clubhouse.
Norton won by two wickets, but slip to second place in Division Two, one point behind Woodbourne.
Norton Thirds entertained basement side Astwood Bank at Snitterfield, with the visitors winning the toss and electing to field first.
Mark White (75) and Simon Hathaway (67) then took advantage of numerous dropped catches to record a strong total.
The two batsmen were the mainstay of the innings, which finished on a total of 220-4 off 45 overs, generously assisted by 54 extras.
Astwood Bank used a total of nine bowlers, with second change Ahmed being the most economical, taking 1-19 off seven overs.
Skipper Martin Hall and Tim Fell got to work after tea and were soon in amongst the wickets.
Only the opener Ross (18) and number three Ward (23) got into double figures as the innings lurched towards its inevitable conclusion.
At 57-7 in the 21st over the game was as good as over, with Tim Fell having taken 3-11 off ten overs, and Harkern Sumal returning 4-31, a little expensive this week.
Dave Butler and Nick Frost also took their first wickets for the Club.
The win puts Norton sixteen points clear at the top of Division Seven and a visit to winless Alvechurch & Hopwood next week could see them consolidate their position further.