CRICKET: NORTON Lindsey were left to reflect on an up and down weekend after the first team lost out at home defending Cotswold Hills Champions Wellesbourne.
Keen to get revenge after losing out in May, Norton skipper James Pyatt won the toss and decided to bat first.
Openers Martin Perfect (22) and Gavin Shepherd (25) agreed with this decision and they raced to 51 off just nine overs.
Wellesbourne responded by changing both bowlers, which brought immediate results when Stephenson removed Perfect with his first ball.
Mole then dismissed Shephard in his second over, trapping him lbw.
The visitors started to push on from their first breakthrough as the next six batsmen amassed just 26 runs between them – leaving the score on a sorry 97/8 in the 28th over.
David McInnes (27*) arrived at the wicket at number nine to try and provide some sort of respectability to the total.
His top score helped Norton to 133.
But when last man Kieran Kite (6) was caught out in the 36th over, they handed Wellesbourne nearly ten extra overs.
In an effort to prevent the batsmen from settling, no less than seven bowlers were used.
With their additional overs, the champions played a patient game.
Though they lost six wickets on their way to overhauling their target in the 38th over.
Despite the loss, Norton remain in touch with the leading group of the Premier Division.
Norton’s second string made the short trip to Exhall & Wixford to meet a team struggling in the Division Three relegation zone.
Ultimately, the visitors returned home with a full bag of points, but their hosts put up a good fight.
Exhall chose to field first and exploited some bowler-friendly conditions to remove opener Mark White (0) and Conor Green (9) cheaply.
This brought Rory Baker to the middle to join skipper Dan Fell, and they combined to swing the game back in Norton’s favour.
Both batsmen worked hard against some accurate bowling, but reached their half centuries almost together.
Baker (135) then stepped up a gear and raced past three figures on his way to his best personal league score of the season with 26 boundaries, including two 6s.
When Fell (91) was removed in the 30th over, the pair had put on nearly 200 runs, suggesting that massive total was on the cards.
However, from 225-4 Exhall then pulled the game right back, dismissing four batsmen for just nine runs between them.
Only 60 runs were scored in the final 15 overs as Exhall were left a target of 262.
As in the previous fixture between the two teams, opener John Simpson (17) pushed hard from the start.
But his progress was stopped by a brilliant slip catch from Baker.
Norton’s bowlers adapted well to the difficult gradients at each end of the wicket, with Steve Bliwert producing his customary tight opening spell.
Conor Green and Tom de Freston then combined to keep Exhall behind on the scoreboard, and took more wickets to make inroads into the lower order.
Batting at eight, Gates (88) was in no mood to let the game go, putting the bad ball away efficiently to bring his side back into the game.
Bliwert finally removed him when he returned for his second spell, caught behind by Baber.
The fight continued though, as McAdam (24) and Murrow (23) held on to the 8th wicket.
After they were parted, the reply fizzled out, leaving Exhall on a creditable 238-9 at the close.
The win consolidates Norton’s second place slot, putting them a healthy 21 points clear of Stoneleigh.