THE WORRYING patch of inconsistency at Norton Lindsey & Wolverton continued last weekend as both first and second XI’s failed to capitalise on clear point opportunities.
Bottom of the table Leek Wootton were the visitors to Wolverton Road to play the first team, having not won a Cotswold Hills League Premier Division game all season.
Martin Perfect was given the choice and elected to bat first but the home side had all sorts of trouble with Graeme Couchman promoted to the unfamiliar role of opening bowler.
Graeme Couchman was straight on the money, removing Gavin Shephard (7), brother Stuart (1) and James Pyatt (8) to leave the score on a very sorry 29-3 in the tenth over.
Opening bat Liam Smith (31) put together some sort of recovery with Conor Green (22) but they were parted seven overs later having advanced the score by 36.
Playing his first game after injury, No.6 Richard Pozzi (27) joined Smith to try and push towards some sort of competitive total.
They struggled to get any momentum against tight Wootton bowling and when Smith was trapped lbw in the 31st over, the score had only just moved into three figures.
This was the signal for the wheels to come off completely as Sunny Nijjar (6), Steve Rushton (4), and David McInnes (3) all had short stays.
Eventually Pozzi was the ninth wicket as Norton collapsed from 100-4 to 131-9 leaving Martin Perfect (13no) and Steve Bliwert (7no) to try and salvage something from the innings.
They edged to a lacklustre 158 at tea, with Couchman returning a fine 3-16, Ian Cox (3-40) and Abdul Khan (2-26) all off ten-over spells.
With Norton missing both front line spinners, it was always going to be a huge job containing the visitors.
Despite an early success for McInnes in the third over, the visitors were never in any trouble as they accumulated steadily.
Opener Ian Somerville (73no) carried his bat as the total was reached in the 33rd over, well supported by Terrance Malcolm (35) and Stuart Budd (25).
Norton bowled tidily but without any significant pressure as Wootton finished on 159-3.
Sitting in secnd place in Division Two, the Seconds made the journey to Loxley Close to meet strugglers Wellesbourne Seconds, confidant there was an opportunity to consolidate their position.
The home side won the toss but decided to field on one of the hottest afternoons of the year, inviting skipper Dan Fell and Mark White to set a target.
White (33) initially took the lead but Fell (58) eventually found his rhythm and the pair had reached 81 when Barhi took the first wicket in the 19th over.
Kieran Kite (23) joined Fell, but tight bowling kept runs at a premium, and the introduction of third change bowler Ricky Alford separated them after a stand of 44.
With the score on 130-2 at the end of the 30th over it was time to use the wickets in hand and push on to a competitive score.
There was a slight middle order wobble as Alford claimed further victims in Stuart Prout-Richardson (7) and Andrew Dellow (0).
But this brought Ian Baber (48no) and Tarv Dhanjal (14no) together.
They added 66 runs in the final ten overs to set a target of 212, with Alford returning with 3-44.
After the break, Norton needed to take control of the game, conscious a lightning quick outfield had been a great help in the first innings.
However, opening bowlers Tim Fell and Dhanjal struggled to maintain the required pressure and Wellesbourne began to get the upper hand.
Steven Webber replaced Dhanjal but the regular sprinkling of bad balls were gratefully accepted and sent rapidly to the boundary.
Father and son duo Steve and Andrew Dellow were then introduced to the attack with immediate effect, the youngster bringing the accuracy and aggression which had so far been missing.
For the first time the Wellesbourne batsmen were under pressure and Steve Dellow opened his spell with three maidens, dismissing opener Craig Cook (28) and Sunni Bahi (40) in the first two.
Home skipper Phil Rothwell (8) tried to regain the momentum, but when he drove in the air to Dan Fell at mid-on, Norton had regained control, with only 21 runs being added in 11 overs for the loss of three wickets.
Ricky Alford (1) came out to swing the bat but Andrew Dellow immediately disposed of him, sending his off stump cartwheeling away.
However, this saw the end of his impressive spell as age restrictions dictated he be rested, an event which saw the game swing back in the home side’s favour.
Matt Boyle (22) took advantage of the pressure release at one end, but when he skied a catch in the 37th over, Wellesbourne still needed 50 runs.
Steve Dellow had kept one end tight returning 3-23 off his ten overs but he too then had to leave the attack.
Teenagers Noah Rose (30no) and Jack Myatt (31no) got their chance and went for the win, putting the field under pressure at every opportunity.
They benefitted from two crucial dropped catches, no balls, and survived a number of close run-out calls to cross the line in the final over.