Hastings Priory’s cricketers ended their barren run away to neighbours Bexhill with a 48-run win yesterday (Saturday).
It was Priory’s first Sussex Premier League victory at The Polegrove since 2010 and their first league win anywhere against Bexhill in six attempts.
Priory were all out for 211 in 45.1 overs after losing the toss and being asked to bat. As is often the case with Priory, the score was based on solid contributions from several players, the best of them from James Pooley.
The quick scoring opener shared in partnerships of 45 with Jason Finch (21), 51 with returning Sussex academy prospect Joe Billings (28) and 34 with captain Tom Gillespie until being third man out, with the score 130, for 60 off 57 balls with five fours and four sixes - an innings which was key to the overall outcome.
Gillespie - fresh off a rapid half-century in the previous weekend’s victory over Brighton & Hove - went on to make 26, but his dismissal to Shawn Johnson sparked a collapse from 156-3 to 178-9, the victims including Leo Cammish (15) and John Morgan (11).
There followed an important last wicket partnership of 33 between Finn Hulbert, who made a valuable 29 off 33 balls, and Jed O’Brien (5 not out) which took the score past the 200 mark.
Johnson was the most successful Bexhill bowler, following up his impressive three-wicket haul against Cuckfield the previous weekend with a very good 4-40 from 15 overs.
Josh Beeslee again did well with 3-30 from 9.1 overs, Nick Peters took 2-53 and Bradley Payne, back from injury, claimed 1-28 off eight against his former club.
Bexhill fell short in reply, eventually being bowled out for 163 in 55.5 overs. Three players were out for scores in the 20s, making it seven in the match, but none could go on to play the big innings that was needed if Bexhill were to reach their target.
Jimmy Walker, promoted to open the batting, was leg before to Adam Barton for 10 with the score 16. Malcolm Johnson (29) and Tim Hambridge (5) added 29 for the second wicket until both fell to Hulbert in quick succession.
And when Barton dismissed Jake Lewis (9) and Bexhill captain Johnathan Haffenden first ball, Bexhill had suddenly gone from 45-1 to 56-5.
Shawn Johnson and Liam Bryant rebuilt with a good sixth wicket partnership of 48 until Bryant was bowled by Elliot Hooper for 25. Payne (5) was pinned leg before by O’Brien seven runs later and the same bowler dismissed Shawn Johnson for 28 to leave Bexhill 130-8.
Bexhill refused to give up, though, and spinners Beeslee and Peters patiently added 26 for the ninth wicket until the latter was caught behind by Billings off Hulbert for 13.
Hulbert then wrapped things up by having last man Byron Smith caught by Finch for three, leaving Beeslee on a defiant 18 not out from 78 balls.
Hulbert was the most successful Priory bowler with 4-29 from 8.5 overs and fellow seamer Barton also performed very well with 3-36 off 15. The other three wickets were shared by spinners Hooper (1-31 off 13) and O’Brien (2-34 off 11).
Priory remain in the final safe spot of eighth, albeit only three points behind sixth-placed Brighton & Hove, and second-bottom Bexhill are now 59 adrift of their neighbours at the midway point of the season.
Sussex Premier League standings (all played 9 matches): 1 Roffey 225pts, 2 East Grinstead 224, 3 Horsham 217, 4 Cuckfield 200, 5 Preston Nomads 172, 6 Brighton & Hove 150, 7 Middleton 148, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 147, 9 BEXHILL 88, 10 Ansty 61.