The gloomy start to PAPPLEWICK AND LINBY’S Notts Premier League season reached a new low with a narrow 12-run defeat against fellow strugglers Clifton Village.
Clifton might have won the title three times between 2009 and 2011. But they went into this game only just above bottom-of-the-table Papplewick after one victory from their opening six games.
It was a match Jim Rhodes’s troops needed to win to get their season going. But instead, a fifth reverse from seven reinforced the view that they face a serious battle against relegation.
Frustration was the key word for Papplewick because at various stages of the contest, they looked in a good position.
Not least when, after winning the toss, they reduced Clifton to 36 for three thanks to new-ball wickets for Gareth Blinkhorn (two for 58 in ten overs) and Rhodes himself (one for 29 in ten), who bowled South African all-rounder Jarrod Coombe for a duck in the first over.
Batsmen did continue to come and go, as change-bowlers Jack McIver (three for 68 in 15 overs) and Kieron McComb (one for 34 in 15) probed away.
However, Clifton were held together by a splendid innings from Caleb Mierkalns, who struck a run-a-ball 82, laced with two sixes and 12 fours.
Once Mierkalns had gone on 114 for six, Papplewick were held up by James Hartley (32 not out) and tailender Tim le Breton (24 nout), who edged the total to 197 for eight.
In reply, too many batsmen got in but got out when looking set -- most notably top-order quartet Alex Lloyd (32, five fours), Mark Nelson (28), Tom Bowers (24) and McIver (16).
At 109 for two, Papplewick were favourites. But then wickets began to tumble (seven for 43 runs) to Clifton bowlers Scott McNeill (two for 16 in four overs), Martin Weightman (two for 49 in ten) and former Notts and Worcestershire pro David Lucas (four for 54 in 13.1).
Rhodes tried hard to revive his side with a breezy 36 (six fours) in a last-wicket stand of 33 with McComb. But the resistance ended when Lucas bowled him with the first ball of the 48th over,