FOUR wickets apiece for Nick Crane and Tom Stevenson helped Willoughby to another useful South Northants Division One win over Croughton which keeps them in touch with the promotion race.
The omens did not look so promising for the hosts initially as having been asked to bat on a damp wicket from morning showers, they were reduced to 8 for 2 early on and then struggled to reach 40 for 4 at the halfway point.
However Graham Hallam’s 42 and 29 from Stevenson went some way to taking Willoughby over three figures and to an eventual 143 all out.
In reply, the visitors were pegged back by first Crane and then Stevenson who returned figures of 4 for 29 and 4 for 28 respectively in a fine show of bowling.
Only Croughton opener Darren Atkins with 54 showed any resistance as the visitors were bowled out for 109, leaving Willoughby victors by 34 runs and one win away from the second promotion spot going into this weekend’s return local derby game at Dunchurch & Bilton.
The efforts of the first 11 were overshadowed by those of Willoughby’s depleted second string who chased down a big total at Preston Bissett largely thanks to a fine century from Manny Sidhu.
The youngsters coming in at number seven made a superb 114 not out to see the visitors to a memorable four wicket victory in Division Three.
The hosts batted first and probably thought they had done enough to secure the win having got off to a whirlwind start reaching 80 off the first ten overs and eventually making 242 for 4.
George Jackman’s 49 was backed by John Thurston’s 68 not out later in the innings as the visitors bowling toiled. One of Willoughby’s up and coming youth cricketers, Adam Whitfield, emerged best with the ball taking 2 for 45.
In reply, the early loss of Sean Thornton then saw Usama Khawaja come in for a quick fire 28 but at 60 for 4 the game still looked out of Willoughby’s reach.
However Sidhu had other ideas and along with Matt Smart took the game to the hosts who perhaps thinking were home and hosed went down to 10 men when one of their young bowlers departed to a concert!
How wrong that move proved to be as Sidhu and Smart put on 150 for the fifth wicket before the latter departed for 52. Sidhu continued his assault going past his 50 before the youngster took only another 20 balls to record his second ton inside a year for the club.
Badj Rahman came in and added valuable support lower with 17 not out but the plaudits belonged to Sidhu as he took Willoughby to their target, finishing on 114 not out as the visitors completed an incredible run chase to win by four wickets with still two overs to spare.