NORTON Lindsey & Wolverton celebrated an emphatic start to their 2018 Cotswold Hills season when all three sides delivered victories on the first day.
The first team were once again pitted against the reigning league champions in their opening game, but made a huge statement of intent with a confident win.
Martin Perfect, Norton’s new Club skipper, lost the toss and was asked to bat.
Openers Gavin Shephard (33) and Richard Pozzi (30) made a solid start, putting on 60 before the first wicket fell.
Stuart Shephard (21) replaced his brother, edging the score onto 86 before Pozzi became the first of Milton’s three wickets.
James Pyatt (20) struggled to get going, and at 96-3 the innings seemed to be running out of steam.
Conor Green (43) then arrived in the middle and started the scoreboard ticking again.
Stands of 27 with Shephard and 49 with skipper Perfect (27no) took the total to a much healthier 172.
Finally, a quick flurry from Rory Baker (13) in the closing overs gave Norton a respectable total of 206.
Milton returned the best bowling figures, recording 3-35 off his ten overs.
After tea, Wellesbourne’s reply was immediately tied down by a miserly spell from McInnes.
Supported well by Pozzi, he bowled straight through, conceding just 16 runs and taking four wickets.
At 49-4, the hosts needed some inspiration, and Milton (42) attempted to keep the innings on track.
Assisted by Barnet (35), they made a good attempt to overhaul the target.
However, the introduction of Green turned the game, and he took three wickets in his first three overs leaving the score on 123-7.
Butcher (34no) and Stephenson (15no) then made a valiant effort, but were always behind the rate.
The innings ended on 175-7, leaving Norton three points clear at the top of the table and on Saturday they entertain Shipston-on-Stour.
Over at Wolverton Road, the newly-promoted second team welcomed 10-man Moreton-in-Marsh for their first game in Division Two.
Norton skipper Dan Fell won the toss and elected to bat on a good wicket, opening with Steve Rushton.
The pair made a promising start until the 15th over when Fell (35) was bowled with the score on 73.
Three wickets then went down for just ten runs, and the pressure was on Rushton to hold the innings together.
Although he put on 40 with his fifth partner, Kieran Kite (4) was very much in a the supporting role.
With the score on 123 in the 29th over, the fifth wicket fell and something had to happen.
This came in the shape of youngster Andrew Dellow (64) who then shared a stand of 104 with Rushton over the next 14 overs.
The pair worked impressively in their first partnership together, delivering a display of controlled aggression that swung the game right back Norton’s way.
Dellow was out in the 43rd over, but Rushton then carried his bat for an impressive 103no, including five sixes, setting Moreton a challenging target of 241.
Needing to take only nine wickets, opening bowlers Dellow and Webber set about the task.
Bowling with pace, Dellow removed batsmen two and three, then Varun Goel came into the attack and took a further two as the vistors pushed to 126-4.
Opener Stotesbury (62) was riding his luck and holding the innings together, as confident lbw shouts were turned down.
At 178-5, there was a real chance that he could take Moreton to victory, as he found good support from Henshaw (27).
But the return of Dellow for his second spell took their hopes away as he dismissed both batsmen in quick succession.
It was then a formality as the final two wickets fell to Steve Webber giving Norton a 53 run victory.