Five wickets for Berry in Bourne win; Deeping defeat high-flyers
Bourne and Market Deeping banished any lingering fears of being dragged into the bottom two of the Lincs Premier Division with vital victories at the weekend.
The duo both went into the penultimate weekend of matches knowing that defeats could see them overtaken by second-from-bottom Alford.
However, Bourne beat Alford by four wickets while Deeping claimed an excellent win over high-flying Sleaford to see both sides climb several places in the league standings.
Matt Kidd got Bourne off to a flying start at Alford as he picked up three early wickets to leave the hosts reeling at 10-3.
However, a 130-run partnership between Rikki Bovey (60) and Andrew White (83) brought Alford back into the match.
Jack Berry made the vital breakthrough by bowling White and then he had Nick Bennett caught by Robert Dunn to leave the hosts on 152-5.
Josh Hallam lasted just three balls before he was caught by Courtney Kruger off Berry and then Tom Dixon caught and bowled Sam Lempard.
Berry dismissed Tom White by the same method as Alford fell to 166-8 and then claimed the crucial wicket of Bovey, courtesy of a Kidd catch, to complete his five-wicket haul.
Dixon rounded off proceedings by trapping Antonio Garcia-Barker leg before as Alford were bowled out for 186.
Berry was the pick of the Bourne bowlers with 5-41 from 11 overs while Kidd claimed 3-28 from nine and Nixon took 2-43 off 14.
The Bourne reply got off to a slow start with Berry and Jordan Temple falling cheaply to leave the visitors on 18-2.
Brothers Sam and Joey Evison put on 38 runs for the third wicket before wicket-keeper Carl Wilson joined the former to move Bourne on to 75-4 when Sam Evison was dismissed for 30.
Wilson and Kruger took over the mantle though as they put on 78 runs for the fifth wicket which moved Bourne closer to victory.
Wilson was caught by Hallam off Brad McGilloway for 44 and, although Kruger fell shortly after three runs short of his half-century after being bowled by McGilloway, Dunn (13no) and Dixon (15no) guided Bourne to a crucial win.
Market Deeping's excellent win at Sleaford put a dent in the home side's hopes of securing third place behind champions Bracebridge and runners-up Grantham.
Deeping had posted 221 before three wickets apiece from James Hook and Mehul Adatia helped skittle Sleaford for 196.
The visitors lost Connor Gillett early on and then Josh Smith fell after smashing 23 runs off just 26 balls.
Dave Gillett (20) and Jamie Morgan (55) put on 49 runs for the third wicket and then Ross Barnes joined Morgan to add 55 runs from their partnership.
Deeping lost a couple of quick wickets to be 149-6 before a 39-run stand between skipper David Sargeant (18) and Sachithra Perera (36) regained the visitors' momentum.
Perera and Ali Sharp (22) then added a further 27 runs for the eighth wicket before Deeping lost their final two batsmen without scoring to close on 221. Adi Sreedharan was the pick of the Sleaford bowlers with 3-29 from 12.4 overs.
Hook helped himself to two top order Sleaford wickets to stall their reply on 45-3 but, with Tom Shorthouse in top form, the hosts were always in the match.
Shorthouse and Charlie Roberts (19) put on 42 runs for the fourth wicket before Deeping hit back with a couple of wickets to leave the hosts on 102-5.
Iain McPeake took just 28 balls to make 38 which consisted of four fours and two sixes before he was trapped leg before by Smith as Sleaford reached 149-6.
Perera and Adatia then worked their way through the lower order despite the efforts of opener Shorthouse.
He was the last Sleaford wicket to fall when Hook came back into the attack to have the opener caught by Perera for a classy 88 as Deeping claimed a 25-run success.
Sleaford’s defeat allowed Woodhall Spa to move within 10 points of third place which will now go to the wire with Sleaford playing at seventh-placed Bourne in the final league match of the season and Woodhall entertaining Lindum
The following weekend, the four top teams will play off for a new trophy, with first playing fourth and second against third on Saturday and the final taking place at Grantham on Sunday.
Eighth-placed Deeping end their campaign on Saturday with a home clash against bottom-of-the-table Grimsby.