THE top flight of the North Devon Holiday Homes Cricket League has effectively become a three-team charge. Week 12 also saw one of the few remaining 100 per cent records blown away, while Beaford take centre stage for claiming their first win of the seaso
THE top flight of the North Devon Holiday Homes Cricket League has effectively become a three-team charge.Week 12 also saw one of the few remaining 100 per cent records blown away, while Beaford take centre stage for claiming their first win of the season.The Division One side's victory, at the eighth time of asking, came at Lynton & Lynmouth who fell to their third defeat in as many outings. Alistair McMillan (77) and Alan James (29no) helped take Beaford to 202. Ed Yeo and Nick Bowen took two wickets for a Lynton side who were then bowled out for 183 despite Yeo's half century and a cameo unbeaten 26 from Bowen at the end of the innings. Martin Barratt was the star of the show with the ball, He took 4-23 and the win sparks new life into the Beaford bid to stay in the top flight.At the other end of the table, the race looks to be down to three teams now for that is the number of sides in the to tier to have lost just the one game. Everybody else has now lost at least three times. Sandford still lead, they did not have a game at the weekend but both Bradninch and North Devon travelled, and won. Stuart Rhodes took three wickets and scored another unbeaten century to lead North Devon to a seven-wicket win at Newton Tracey but the highlight of the meeting was the personal battle between the Gear brothers. Rob Gear hit 127 as he and Phil Steward (68) led their side to 300-8. Martin Gear then hit an unbeaten 80 to support the Rhodes effort as North Devon got home with seven balls of the contest remaining.Filleigh suffered a third straight defeat, this time going down by just six runs to Bradninch in a game that saw the Mid Devon side score 234-7 thanks to the combined efforts of a Zimbabwean and an Australian. Jamie Palmer took 2-24 for Filleigh who replied with 228 led by a magnificent century from Mark Prideaux who reached the milestone off just 58 balls. Once he was run put though, the innings fell apart. With Prideaux still there, 70 runs were needed from 18 overs, but once the centurion walked, the wickets fell at regular intervals. Jaz Kalsi scored 24 but the final score of 228 in the final over of the day left them half a dozen runs shy of a successful run chase. For Filleigh to maintain a title challenge they cannot afford to lose another game. From here on in, it needs to be nothing but wins, a tall order in what looks to be the most competitive top-flight campaign for some time.In Division Two, Bratton Fleming went down by six wickets at Heathcoat where the home side answered the Bratton 123 all out with 124-4.Meanwhile, Barnstaple & Pilton slipped up at home to Filleigh II who won by eight wickets thanks to Jamie Popplewell's 4-35 as Barum were bowled out for 130. Former Bideford player Michael Clarke top scored with an unbeaten 28, while Filleigh lost five wickets in the run chase, two of which fell to Tom Popham.In Division Three, Bratton Fleming II won by eight wickets at home to Cheriton Fitzpaine thanks to the combined efforts of Tom Batson, Steve Ayre and Murray Sharpe who each bagged a brace of wickets leaving the visitors all out for 106. Brian Ayre (41no) and Robin Hunt (36no) saw their side to a comfortable victory, a win sealed with a huge hit from Ayre.Barnstaple & Pilton II lost their 100 per cent record when beaten by seven wickets at Sandford II. The defeat came despite a superb 108 from Matt Down that underpinned the Barum total of 173. But the Creedy Park side lost just three wickets on their way to a comfortable win.Bideford II were another side to win by eight wickets as they beat Kelseymen who were bowled out for 144 with Daren Hart taking 5-24. John Higgs (46) and Tom Mitcham (32) provided the biggest contributions for Kelseymen and Higgs then took one of the two home wickets to fall. Tom Hack took the other, but the Bideford batsmen were in charge post tea led by Alan Widdicombe (43) and Fergus Bradbeer (37). The win was confirmed by Dave Stevens (21no) and Darren Hart (18no).Lynton & Lynmouth II struggled to raise a side and had to forfeit their game at Bude but they saw action at Victoria Park where Newton Tracey II claimed an 11-run win. Ollie Simmons (47) and Mark Howden (36) led their side to 209-9. There were two wickets each for Mark Slade and Dave Gordon for Victoria Park who then replied with 198-9 to make the 10-point tally for the side batting second. Gordon hit an unbeaten 43 and his father John top scored with 43 while Steve Oliver chipped in with 22 to add to his earlier brace of wickets.Weare Giffard won their latest Division Five outing, beating hosts Bradninch by nine wickets in a game that produced two magnificent centuries including a 115 knock by Devon under 21 player Ross Acton. Ian Jury was the star of the show for the visitors. His first spell saw him wicketless after six overs but then skipper Bernie Wittram called him back to bowl from the opposite end and he promptly picked up five wickets for 14 runs in three overs. He goes into his next game on a hat-trick. Jury ended with 5-32 and then the game saw a superb knock from Mike Headen who hit a 99-ball unbeaten 119 as he and Scot Huxtable (45) took their side to a comfortable nine wicket win. The victory sees Weare Giffard stay hot on the heels of leaders Halberton who are now one of just two sides to sport a 100 per cent record, the others being Division Four leaders Shebbear.