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Frome 1st XI (163-5) beat Bishops Lydeard 1st XI (161 All Out) by 5 wickets

Frome First XI kept their slim chances of clinching the title alive with an efficient five wicket defeat of Bishops Lydeard on Saturday 17th August.

Persistent morning rain threatened the match, but with Frome eager to get on the field the umpires and the home side were duly persuaded that conditions were acceptable, and on winning the toss Frome inserted Lydeard in a match reduced to 43 overs.

Lydeard made a cautious start and made just two from the first four overs before breaking the shackles imposed by the bowling of Neal and Craig Dredge, taking the score to 19 before Taylor was well caught by Stonell at mid-off for 10. This quickly became 36-3 when Dredge bowled Bellamy (15) before taking an outstanding one-handed catch at slip to dismiss Lewis (4) off a Neal outswinger.

The Lydeard pair of Clark and Escott then played steadily to rebuild. Frome turned to the leg-spin of Mark Sanger and the seam of Wheeler and immediately were rewarded when Clark holed-out to deep-square-leg off Sanger for 25, The pair continued to tighten the screw with some consistent bowling backed up with the usual high standards in the field.

The introduction of Hamblin saw no change to the pattern although Lydeard had passed 100 and were beginning to set a platform, until Bleakley replaced the economical Wheeler and Frome made their fifth breakthrough when Escott was run out by a Wheeler direct hit for 28.

Almost immediately Frome picked up the key wicket of Burke, caught smartly by Smith standing up for 36, and soon after Bleakley bowled Fitt (4) and Parker (1). A few lusty blows from Thomas (10*) and Sutton (8) saw the total pass 150, before Bleakly picked up the final two scalps to finish with four wickets, Lydeard 161 all out in the final over.

When the match duly restarted in light, persistent drizzle, Frome openers Paul Sanger and Stonell made a solid start, as usual punishing anything wayward to the boundary. The score reach 37 in the seventh over and when looking well set, Sanger (16) smashed a straight drive back at the bowler Thomas, who half protecting his face took one of the best one-handed catches you’ll ever see. Bleakley joined Stonell, and the pair progressed on what was now proving a difficult surface in constant rain.

The total passed 50 but having found the bowling of Burke to his liking Bleakley played one shot too many and was LBW for 20. The in-form Smith joined Stonell, and again the pair put together a partnership, but on a wicket where you were never really ‘in’, Smith (9) skied a catch to the ‘keeper’ to leave the score 86-3 and Frome nerves jangling a little. 10 runs later this was 99-4 as Stonell was unlucky to be bowled off his chest for 23, and Cantrell joined Dan Dredge knowing there was still work to be done.

The pair played sensibly and again put on a partnership on a wicket that was now beginning to bounce excessively, but when Cantrell (6) was caught at slip a further 47 were still needed with only five Frome wickets remaining. Neal joined Dredge, and despite a few play and misses played patiently and adjusted to conditions, knowing Frome had plenty of overs remaining to chase the total, and that any further interruption would see them victorious with their superior run rate.

The score edged upwards with the odd poor ball dispatched to the boundary, before a couple of big overs from Dredge – including one massive six over the long boundary – broke the back of the run chase, allowing Frome to get over the line with over 11 overs to spare. Dredge finished on an excellent 41 not out.

A second consecutive defeat for league leaders Wembdon means Frome still have an outside chance of topping the table, should results go extremely favourably for them during the final two weeks of the season.