THEY left it incredibly late but Empingham secured promotion with a flurry of wickets towards the end of a game they had looked like losing on the final day of the season.
Empingham travelled to Sholay on Sunday knowing they had to win and rely on results elsewhere to clinch second spot in the Grantham League’s third tier.
The weather knocked out fixtures elsewhere but it looked for a long time that the Rutlanders would fail to secure the points that they required.
Empingham batted first but got off to a sticky start. Freddie Turner and Mark Coburn opened the batting but both went for just eight runs, bringing Andy Larkin and Tom Cooper to the middle.
But with the pitch doing all sorts, they took their time to get going. Andy was eventually bowled on 31 and Tom made 60 before being caught in the deep.
Baz Sharp had a good knock to make 33, and Matt Denny and Dan O’Kane both added 16 as Empingham pushed their total to 207. But when their hosts were seemingly safe on 130 for no wickets, Empingham’s cause looked over.
Despite tight spells from Larkin and Stu Naylor, and decent line and length from Rick Cooper, it wasn’t until the 26th over that Empingham got the break they needed.
“We thought we were in for a battering,” conceded Empingham skipper Tom Cooper afterwards.
But once O’Kane claimed a scalp – his victim caught slogging towards the boundary – the wickets suddenly tumbled.
O’Kane finished with three wickets and Dave McKevitt, who dismissed the key dangerman on 79 with a great caught and bowled, finished with five wickets.
“We got through them pretty quick in the end. Five went for ducks,” said the Empingham captain.
“Dave bowled what was possibly his best spell of the season taking five wickets for 36 runs in 7.2 overs.”
McKevitt took two wickets in an over to finish the game with great spell that saw Empingham pick up 20 points, sealing second spot and promotion.
It was an impressive achievement for Empingham who were mid-table until an end-of-season charge in which they recorded three maximum point victories in their last three outings.
P W L NR Pts
Tilton 16 14 0 2 290
Empingham 16 -9 7 0 224
Bingham 16 8 5 3 222
Sholay 16 6 7 3 199
Ashby Carrington 16 5 9 2 173
Houghton 16 5 10 1 169
Queniborough 16 5 10 1 161
Foston 16 6 9 1 155
Stoughton 16 5 9 1 88