North Devon skipper Tom Popham did not have to look far for the plus points in his side’s three-wicket defeat by Sandford.
North Devon had been in all sorts of trouble when they batted, sliding to 57 for seven after a pummelling from Harrison Jones (3-31) and Jamie Palmer (4-24).
George McEndoo, a new recruit from Barnstaple and Pilton, dropped anchor to make 36 off 84 balls and Devon fast bowler Jack Popham showed he could bat a bit too by making 69 in a stand of 103 that staved off total collapse.
North Devon’s total of 197 all out always looked on the shy side, but Sandford had to work hard to wipe it off.
Sandford opener Ryan Glass continued his early season form with a good-looking 68 on the chase and both Harrison Jones (30) and Sandy Allen (21) chipped in.
North Devon fought back with McEndoo (2-31) striking twice in an over, which left Sandford needing 50 to win with three wickets in tact.
Skipper Richard Foan (21no) and Chris Simpson (34) did what was necessary to win the game.
Popham said the consolation of losing a close game was the fighting spirit his side showed.
“The cluster of wickets we lost cost us as we could have done with 20 more, but George and Jack batted superbly to get us to a defendable score,” said Popham.
“We again fought back well with the ball as they looked at one point to be coasting home
“The fight and never say die attitude was great to see from us and we dragged it back to make it tight at the end.
“Every time we play Sandford it’s tight, which shows there’s not much between the sides.”
North Devon visit Hatherleigh this Saturday, who will be hoping it is third time lucky this Saturday after sliding to a second successive defeat.
An opening day reversal at Sandford was followed by 24-run defeat at the hands of a Liam Lewis-inspired Heathcoat.
Lewis, in at first wicket down, then took over the task of run scoring by cracking the Hatherleigh attack for 136 at better than run-a-ball rate.
While he survived a scare or two – including a ball from Sean Letheren that grazed a stump but did not dislodge a bail – such was Lewis’ domination of the Hatherleigh bowling that in a stand of 45 for the third wicket with Joe Du’Gay, his partner scored just one run.
Spinner Eddie Jones finally accounted for Lewis when he had him caught by Gareth Tidball. Jones finished with figures of four for 37 in Heathcoat’s total of 203 for nine.
Hatherleigh subsided to 46 for five 19 overs into their reply, but help was at hand in the shape of Paul Heard (67) and keeper Ryan Davies (45) whose stand of 111 re-energised the chase.
Rob Holman’s under-used off-spin broke the stand when he snared Davies lbw and with him out of the way the next four wickets went for 17 runs scored as Hatherleigh faded to 179 all out.
Skippers don’t like losing, but Hatherleigh’s Rob Cockwill could live with this one in the light of his team’s performance.
“I thought we bowled and fielded well, with good performances from all our bowlers,” said Cockwill.
“We just needed one of our top four to get a score and I think we would have won. We just left too much work to do for the lower order.
“Paul Heard and Ryan Davies gave us a chance of winning with a great partnership.
“Obviously Liam Lewis’ brilliant innings was the main difference between the sides. On another day, with luck on our side, he could have been out early when the ball hit the stump but the bails didn’t come off.
“Overall, very happy with a battling performance from the team when we had a lot of young and inexperienced players stepping up.”