The eagerly-awaited top-of-the-table clash between the big guns in Division Two of the Derbyshire County League ended with Langley Mill United having their lead slashed to just one point by Ilkeston Rutland.
The Millers held on for a losing draw, scoring 209-9 in response to the visitors’ 248-8. But they collected only 12 points to the 18 of Rutland, who also have a game in hand.
The game’s key man was Rutland’s dangerous opener David Smit, who took full advantage of his side’s decision to bat first. Smit set off at lightning six-an-over pace and by the 15th over, he and partner Alex Jordan (30) had taken the score to 94 without loss.
In the blink of an eye, Langley Mill fought back. Second-change bowler Jay Holmes picked up four wickets in quick succession, including that of Jordan, and Simon Lacey also struck twice as Rutland sank to 120-6.
However, Smit remained and went on to carry his bat for a superb 139no, which was the 28th century of his career. Mini-partnerships with the Lockhart brothers, James (19) and Thomas (11), and skipper Sam Moulds (13no) also enabled him to lift his side to a highly respectable total by the end of their allotted 46 overs.
Of the bowlers, Holmes finished with figures of 4-60 from 14 overs), Lacey with 2-65 from 14 and Lance Humphrey 2-56 in 12.
The Millers started well in reply, easing to 73-0 in the hands of openers George Brandrick (47) and Josh Lacey (32). But like Rutland, they suffered a slump and slid to 116-4 as Thomas Lockhart (4-69 in 14 overs) turned the screw.
It was left to Jamie Salmons to hold the innings together with a fine 61, which included six sixes, and at 173-5, victory was still possible. But then Salmons was one of four quickfire victims for Moulds (4-32) that transformed the board to 200-9 and Langley Mill had to bat out for the draw.