Clinging on for a losing draw against top-of-the-table West Hallam White Rose, Langley Mill United suffered a hammer-blow to their title hopes in the Second Division of the Derbyshire County League.
Langley Mill needed to beat the newly-crowned Butterley Cup winners to shake up the race for promotion. But instead they crumbled in reply to a searching total of 276-7 by West Hallam, who duly strengthened their position in first place.
The Millers did finish on 163-9 to prevent outright defeat. But they now trail the leaders by 18 points and also slip to third in the table, six points behind Nutbrook, whose upcoming visits to both Langley Mill and West Hallam (on the penultimate day of the season) look likely to decide the promotion stakes.
With skipper Andrew Bailey missing for the day, stand-in Jack Scott took the reins and opted to ask the visitors to bat first on winning the toss. The Millers’ bowlers started with a maiden, but that was as good as it got because West Hallam’s opening pair, the Brandricks, tore into their attack, posting 177 for the first wicket.
George Brandrick thumped 90, including one six and 13 fours, while Martin Brandrick belted 62 (eight fours) before both were finally removed in quick succession by Simon Lacey (3-57 in 14 overs), who was The Millers’ most effective bowler by some distance.
From then on, there was a steady fall of wickets as both new-ball bowlers, Jay Holmes (2-60 in 11 overs) and Alex Bacon (1-58 in nine), found success in their second spells. But in their allotted 46 overs, West Hallam still built a formidable total, which was boosted by a surfeit of extras (37, including 21 wides).
Further valuable contributions were supplied by Matt Tatler (22, three fours), Tom Brandrick (20, four fours) and James Lockhart (19), while Millers’ bowlers Josh Lacey (0-44 in six overs) and Daniel Hanson (0-46 in six) returned figures they’d prefer to forget.
In reply, Langley Mill needed to go at a run a ball to come even close. But they got off to the worst possible start when losing opener Paul Bailey, who was trapped lbw by James Lockhart for just seven.
Wicketkeeper Lewis Pinder did rally with 31, which included six fours, and then Sajendra Thimal also threatened to make a game of it when firing 29 (five fours). But both fell when looking set and with Jamie Salmons also departing cheaply, by the time drinks arrived at the halfway stage of the innings, The Millers were on the brink of defeat at 86-4.
With Lockhart (3-56 in 14 overs), Carl Cruz (4-20 in 11 overs) and Peter Hort (1-43 in 14) continuing to bowl well for West Hallam, it became a case of batting out for the draw.
The home side just managed it -- thanks chiefly to a defiant, unbeaten 36 by number eight bat Bacon, who struck two sixes and eight fours. Bacon was left holding the fort at the death with number 11 Josh Lacey -- after earlier efforts from Hanson (19, four fours) and Simon Lacey (13).
The outcome mirrored that of the two sides’ previous meeting in May when Langley Mill limped to 117-9 in response to West Hallam’s 229-6, which also included a half-century from George Brandrick.