Magnificent Mansfield Hosiery Mills and cock-a-hoop Cuckney sprang surprises in the Notts Premier League that threw the title race wide open.
Hosiery Mills shrugged off a tame start to the season by stunning defending champions Kimberley with a four-run win in the last over, while third-placed Cuckney clipped the wings of leaders Plumtree by four wickets.
Now only 11 points seperate the top four teams in the table, with West Indian Cavaliers also in the mix after a winning draw against Ordsall Bridon.
Pride of place went to Hosiery Mills, who were asked to bat first on Kimberley’s track and relied heavily on Tom New in a total of 218-5 from their allotted 50 overs. New made 98 (four sixes and six fours) from 106 balls and after helping opener Matt New (39) take the score to 83-2, he shared key stands of 67 with Mark Smallwood (27) and 55 with Elliott Bowles.
All-rounder Bowles then played an important role with the ball, taking 4-59 in an 11.2-over spell that checked Kimberley’s reply. Sam Johnson (36) and Dominic Brown (31) kept the champions up with the required run-rate and an unbeaten 64 (two sixes and seven fours) from George Bacon looked as if it would carry them to victory. But The Millers kept chipping away, with Matt New (3-24 in nine overs) and Matt Wright (2-54 in 11 overs) also among the wickets, and although only eight were required from the final two overs, they got their reward, with Bowles trapping last man Chris Glover lbw four balls from the end.
Meanwhile Cuckney closed the gap on the top two with a well-earned victory at Plumtree. After putting the hosts in, they restricted them to 149-8 in their allotted 50 overs -- a total that would have been much worse but for a painstaking 51 by number three bat Oliver Soames. The bowling honours were shared by Conor Smith (3-25), Lewis Bramley (3-56) and Ian Parkin (2-28).
Cuckney encountered batting problems of their own, sinking to 13-3 against fine bowling by Bobby Gamble (4-43 in 15 overs). But they recovered in the hands of Nick Langford, who compiled 68 and helped skipper William Butler (38) put on 79 for the fourth wicket as the winning runs arrived in the 46th over.
Cavaliers also made ground on the leaders after posting 211-8 on a difficult pitch at home to Bridon, who replied with 144-6. A stand of 57 between Shaun Levy (64) and Adeel Shafique (32) proved crucial for the hosts after they had stumbled to 97-5 against the bowling of Gary Andrews (4-52). Aitizaz Khan (3-42) then tried his best to manufacture outright victory, only for Bridon’s innings to be held together by Jake Tong (40) and skipper James Brice (32).
Elsewhere the matches between Clifton and Caythorpe and Welbeck and Notts CCC Academy were rained off without a ball being bowled. But the other fixture resulted in a remarkable, and very welcome, win for bottom-of-the-table Hucknall at Radcliffe-on-Trent.
The visitors were skittled for just 99 as Usman Muzaffar (3-16), Ben Savage (3-33), Eddie Torr (2-25) and David Lucas (2-23) wreaked havoc. But they hit back by removing Radcliffe for 82 for just their second victory since promotion. Captain Robin Maxwell (3-18), Suhail Ahmed (3-35) and Joel Wright (2-23) inflicted most of the damage.
RESULTS (home teams named first) -- Kimberley 214 lost to Mansfield Hosiery Mills 218-5 by four runs; Plumtree 149-8 lost to Cuckney 153-6 by four wickets; Radcliffe-on-Trent 82 lost to Hucknall 99 by 17 runs; West Indian Cavaliers 211-8 winning draw against Ordsall Bridon 144-6.