Cricket: Empingham suffer second defeat in a row

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Still bearing the scars of last week’s humiliating defeat, Empingham travelled to the picturesque Belton Park, it seemed the perfect setting to mount a comeback and return to winning ways.

Perhaps news of Empingham’s batting frailties had travelled fast as the home side were quick to put Empingham in first.

Determined to show more stubborn resistance, openers Coburn and Turner started very cautiously against good accurate bowling.

It was quickly evident that runs would be hard to come by with the recent weather creating a slow outfield.

However as the ever astute Dave Mckevitt said: “The grass was only going to get longer throughout the game.”

After seeing off the early onslaught of the new ball, Coburn was out sweeping a straight one. This brought Baz Sharp to the crease, who wasted no time hitting a maximum third ball.

However a repeat of the stroke was less successful in the following over, with him being caught on the boundary.

Olly Elson was next to come and go with relative haste, despite looking at ease against the pace bowling, the slow bowler picked up his third victim of the game.

A partnership was needed and Mckevitt and Turner began to deliver.

After consolidating, they attempted to try and up the run rate, with a few worthy blows down the ground and some good running.

Turner (31) fell just as the partnership was getting into full flow.

When stand-in captain Denny went to a great catch soon after, it appeared Empingham were faltering once again but Dan O’Kane had different ideas.

His wonderfully boisterous innings of 35 including three sixes provided the momentum the Exton Road army required.

Mckevitt (44) remained the mainstay of the Empingham innings showing newfound levels of stamina with his persistent running between the wickets. This late flurry of runs took Empingham to a competitive total of 142.

To win the game, Empingham knew they needed to be at the top of their game in the field and unfortunately they weren’t.

A good start from stalwart Mckevitt went unrewarded with countless unsuccessful LBW shouts and a couple of dropped catches.

Elson was able to keep it relatively tight at the other end. However after the first few overs, the Belton openers broke free of the shackles with some expansive shot making, even smashing windows in the process.

Powerful hitting put Empingham on the back foot and threw the bowlers of their lines.

Even the Empingham squeeze couldn’t come into effect and the fielders began to lose their famous oomph.

The sledging became less frequent as the boundaries became more and soon the game had been taken out of Empingham’s grasp.

Even the sorcerer Dan O’Kane couldn’t work his usual magic, with the batsman lining him up.

Rick ‘golden arm’ Cooper eventually picked up the breakthrough, but by this stage, the end was nigh.

Indeed, Belton’s star batsman finished the game with a huge six, taking him to 96 not out.

This condemned Empingham to their first consecutive defeats of the season and carried on the mid-season lull.

A change in outcome will be needed over the coming weeks if the village are going to continue to mount a promotion push.