STOKE Bruerne remain on course for promotion from Northamptonshire Cricket League Division Five despite falling an agonising seven runs short of victory in a rain affected match against Wicken.
Wicken batted first and made steady progress against Stoke’s opening bowlers; however it wasn’t long before the first of three rain breaks occurred to reduce the number of overs.
After an opening stand of 47, Wicken lost their first wicket in the 21st over when Sam Heath cleaned Bowled Harry Moreton for nine.
Another tidy partnership took Wicken up to 70-1 as they looked set for a big total but Stoke’s spinners took control with three wickets falling without a run added.
Luke Adams bowled Ian Bridge for 17 while last week’s star man Dave Weston kept up his fine form with two quick wickets, one of which removed danger man Dan Green for 47.
The spinner took his third wicket moments later when he clean bowled Peter Humphries for two before a run-out removed Pete Higgs for a duck.
From 70-1, Wicken had crashed to 74-6 and the collapse didn’t stop there with Weston claiming another wicket.
The visitors looked to bat out the overs but Stoke’s bowling was too strong as Weston finished with 5-19 and Adams took 3-30 in Wicken’s 111 all out.
Further rain breaks meant Stoke had just 27 overs to chase the target and they made a tentative start in the face of tight Wicken bowling.
Having stemmed the flow of runs, Wicken took their first wicket when Charlie Edwards was first out before Paul Garnder was forced to retire.
It left Stoke needing 77 off 10 overs and they made good progress through Marc Bliss (23).
Simon Orme (46 not out) kept the scoreboard ticking over while Sam Heath struck 27 off 15 balls, including one six, but it wasn’t enough as Stoke finished on 105-2.
Stoke are now 29 points clear of second-placed Weldon with six matches remaining, starting with a visit to St Crispins this Saturday.