A dramatic victory by the narrowest of margins against their closest rivals gave ecstatic Langley Mill United the upper hand in the two-horse race for the Derbyshire County League, Second Division title.
After restricting second-placed Ilkeston Rutland to 158-8 in their allotted 46 overs, leaders Langley Mill slumped from 45-0 to 77-6, after losing five wickets for 19 runs, and looked in big trouble.
But they recovered to 118-7, which soon became 152-7, and although the loss of two wickets left the outcome on a knife-edge, they squeezed over the line by one wicket, with ten balls to spare, when Rutland bowler James Lockhart bowled a wide with the scores tied.
Now the Millers head the table by 21 points from Rutland, who have a game in hand and five to play in total. The rest lag way behind, so the Langley Mill outfit look almost assured of promotion at least.
The batting heroes for the visitors were Jay Holmes, who made 40, and Danny Hanson, who ended on 20no. The pair successfully engineered the fightback, with Lance Humphrey also making 16. Rob Green was the pick of the Rutland bowlers with 3-22.
Earlier Rutland had won the toss and opted to bat first, easing to 36-0 in the hands of Dave Smit and Alex Jordan. But Humphrey removed the dangerous Smit for 14 and then spinner Simon Lacey, who ended up with fine figures of 4-42 from 14 overs, got rid of Jordan for 21 with only his second delivery.
Lacey’s son Josh also did a good job, taking 2-60, as Rutland plunged from 59-2 to 79-5 at one stage. The hosts were only held together by Luke Marriott’s 42 and some late hitting from Lockhart, who struck an unbeaten 32, while Langley Mill were made to regret a couple of dropped catches.
This Saturday, the Millers host bottom club Matlock.