THE first division of the North Devon Holiday Homes Cricket League no longer has any team with a 100 per cent unbeaten record after the last two remaining perfect starts to the campaign were ended on Sunday. Lynton & Lynmouth and Filleigh both lost and
THE first division of the North Devon Holiday Homes Cricket League no longer has any team with a 100 per cent unbeaten record after the last two remaining perfect starts to the campaign were ended on Sunday. Lynton & Lynmouth and Filleigh both lost - and for the first time in living memory, the top flight of North Devon league is set for a five-club fight for the title.After nine weeks of play, just a 1.60-point average separates the top five clubs, all of whom can claim very genuine title aspirations.Filleigh hosted Bideford, the home side going into the game sporting a perfect played three, won three record, while in the visitors' dressing room were a Bideford side with a played three, lost three return. The contest that followed saw the formbook go out of the window as the morning's leaders were hustled out for just 90, facing the Bideford offering of 107. After James Hill (3-25) and Will Palmer (3-17) hold bowled the visitors out, it seemed merely a "stroll" for the hosts to get home. But after Mick Warne ripped the heart out of the Filleigh middle order to return figures of 4-13 in nine splendid overs, the reply floundered on 90. "We blew it, we simply threw it away but for me this is merely a 'blip'," said Filleigh's Simon Prideaux. "Good sides respond and you bet we will next time out." Lynton & Lynmouth also lost their unbeaten record, outclassed by a margin of 50 runs at the Valley of Rocks by a Sandford side that has become the fourth side to top the table so far this season. The visitors batted first and - thanks to Richard Foan (91) and Pete Randerson (66) - posted a healthy total of 265-8 that proved beyond the home side as they were bowled out for 215. Ed Yeo hit 51 and Graham Fitt leathered 37 in the reply and there were runs too from Harry Chapman-Walker (24) to go with his earlier bowling return of 3-44. The previous week's batting hero, young Nick Eggbeer, further enhanced his growing stock with an unbeaten 19.Lynton & Lynmouth's Gary Jones said: "Fair play to Sandford, they were just too powerful for us on the day."Current champions Newton Tracey are sadly out of this year's title race after losing each of their first four games. But they did win at the fifth attempt, scoring 245-8 at Beaford and then restricting the hosts to 177-8. Julian Moore (70) and John Worsley (39) made the biggest contributions to the Newton Tracey innings, while Mike Wigley took three wickets. Alan James bagged a brace for Beaford whose Nigel Lake top scored in the reply with 52. Simon Gear took 3-19 and Phil Steward 2-29.The one remaining 100 per cent record in Division Two also fell with Hatherleigh's defeat at Victoria Park. The morning's leaders were dismissed for 129, a total passed for the loss of just two wickets by the home side. Houston Engel hit 41 in the 129, Tom Anderson (3-21) and Mick Cashmore (2-18) doing the damage with the ball. In the successful run chase, Colin Bettis (69no) and John Glass (41) gave their side a perfect start by putting on 100 for the first wicket.Westleigh won for the first time with a 62 run win at hapless Ilfracombe, who were being beaten for the fifth time in as many outings. Richard Pearson hit his second successive Sunday half-century, finally out for 69 as he and Michael Merrick (24no) set about reconstructing the innings after Mark Taverener (2-17) and John Lethbridge (2-5) had reduced them to 10-5. The innings closed on 156-8 but only Waleed Iqbal with an unbeaten 29 could provide much resistance as the ball remained on top after tea. The home side were bowled out for 94, the third time this term they have collectively failed to reach three figures.The match of the day in Division Three saw the only two remaining perfect starts go head-to-head at Barnstaple & Pilton II, where Shobrooke Park went down by 26 runs in a game reduced to 36 overs a side after a belated start. Brady Sunders provided Barum with the match-winning performance, hitting an unbeaten 49 in his side's offering of 145-4. He then took 3-18 in eight overs as the Mid Devon side were restricted to a reply of 119-9.Holsworthy climbed off the foot of the table with a three-wicket win over Bratton Fleming II. And there was a thrilling final-ball win for Morebath in their game with Cheriton Fitzpaine. Victoria Park II scored an imposing 288-8 to win by 133 runs at Lynton & Lynmouth II. Steve Skinner (66), Steve Oliver (65) and Adam Oliver (46) combined to help their side to their imposing total. Dave Branch then took 4-16 as the home side were bundled out for 155. Sam Hockin became the fourth Bude Sunday centurion this season with 124 of his side's 276-5 answered by Kelseymen with 132. North Devon III's Dan Payne took a brace of wickets as Bishops Nympton were held at 124-7. Payne (16no) then combined with James Starkey (81no) to see their side to a seven-wicket win.Barnstaple & Pilton III went down to a heavy defeat at 100 per cent Halberton despite recovering from 21-5 to 108. But the home side passed that for the loss of just two wickets.Filleigh III lost by 35 runs at North Molton I despite a fine effort from father and son combination Arthur and Simon Prosser. Simon took 4-20 in the Molton innings of 176, while Arthur then top scored with 26 as the reply petered out on 141. There was another "cry off" from Black Torrington who couldn't raise a side on either Saturday or Sunday. That's five times this term they have been unable to field a side and their continued involvement with the league now seems very much in doubt.