CRICKET: Cotswold Hills Premier Division front-runners Norton Lindsey and Wolverton received a significant wake-up call on Saturday with a loss at in-form Exhall and Wixford.
Norton skipper James Pyatt won the toss and put the hosts into bat.
This decision was gratefully received by openers Morris (66) and Smith (86) who prospered in the face of some indifferent bowling.
They took the score to well over 100 by drinks, when Pyatt decided it was time for the riot act.
Spurred into action, the visitors finally got to work with a double breakthrough by Gavin Shephard who ran out Morris and then bowled Smith.
This opened the doors to the middle order, and the combination of Shephard and Andy Dewar pulled the game back.
Four batsmen contributed only 14 runs between them, giving Norton hope of a reasonable target to chase.
However, Park (21) and Perry (23*) pushed the score on, and when Weston (16) was bowled off the last ball of the 45 overs, Exhall had set a challenging score of 243.
In reply, Norton struggled against a determined bowling attack and wickets fell regularly.
No batsmen managed to put together a meaningful partnership with Pyatt (28) and McInnes (22) the top scorers.
The Norton innings ended on a disappointing 170, their first defeat of the season.
At Wolverton Road, the second team welcomed Long Itchington’s second team for another must-win game to keep them in the promotion hunt.
The home side won the toss and asked Long Itchington to field.
Mark White (14) and Simon Hathaway (19) started steadily, but some variation in bounce soon became evident.
White was the first to succumb when he edged a rising ball to first slip with the score on 32.
Conor Green (22), Ian Baber (2), and Tony Walter (17) struggled too and with the score on 108-5 in the 23rd over, alarm bells were ringing.
Andrew Dellow then joined Steve Bliwert (31) to try and set some sort of competitive score.
They succeeded in that they put on 90 over the next ten overs, with some controlled but attacking cricket.
When Dellow (55) perished at long off, trying to hit a fifth maximum, the innings was back on track.
Captain Kieran Kite (31*) then kept the momentum going, and with brisk contributions from Steve Webber (19) and Steve Dellow (16*), took the score to 263-9 at the break.
A cautious but positive start from the Long Itchington batsmen saw them on 44/2 in the 11th over, with Steve Bliwert delivering another accurate spell.
Opener Green (72) then linked with Brooks (41) to take hold of the reply, taking the score to 133.
Conor Green finally deceived the Itchington skipper who popped up a catch which Varun Goel juggled then caught on the third attempt.
Once again, the pressure had produced dropped catches and misfields, and Norton made a straightforward job far more difficult for themselves.
With greater focus after the drinks break, the home team applied the pressure creating two smart run-outs.
Long Itchington found themselves at 184-6 in the 33rd over with plenty of work still to do.
Veteran Nick Sandy helped the score along to 258 in the 43rd over.
Captain Kite was left to bowl the last over, and produced five tight deliveries which left the visitors needing 3 off the last ball.
Number 11 Hart pushed the ball towards mid-on, but Steve Dellow threw the stumps down, running out Sandy as he attempted a second run.
The win puts Norton back in second slot in Division three, setting up an interesting fixture against third place team Stoneleigh next Saturday.