Congresbury take the honours in derby

THIS was an eagerly awaited local derby with Claverham unbeaten in the league this season and Congresbury seeking their fifth consecutive victory.

THIS was an eagerly awaited local derby with Claverham unbeaten in the league this season and Congresbury seeking their fifth consecutive victory.

Claverham won the toss and batted in ideal conditions and the opening pair of Horton and Thorpe took the score steadily to 44 before the league's leading run scorer Horton played on to a delivery from the enthusiastic as ever Mangaldas.

A dropped chance reprieved Thorpe who hit three of the next four balls for four and, just when heads could have dropped, Thorpe was dismissed - run out to a sensational piece of fielding from Congresbury skipper Baker, who hit the stumps direct from a prone position, after a diving stop at midwicket.

This brought Matt Davis to the crease who looked in good touch before nicking one to keeper Paul Brean. Paul Bird and Damien Devanny then took the score to 85 for 3 after 26 overs as Congresbury elected to bowl their opening pair of Mangaldas and Frost through all of their allotted 13 overs each. Mangaldas bowled accurately, collecting 1 for 48 off 13 overs and only a dropped caught and bowled chance in his final over spoiled what was a good spell.

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Neil Frost continued his excellent form with another whole-hearted effort up the Claverham slope, finishing with 1 for 41. As the change bowlers of Baker and Andrews were introduced, the Claverham batsmen adopted a different approach and with Bird batting sensibly and rotating the strike and Devanny attacking the bowlers, the innings was transformed with a partnership of 112 in quick time.

Devanny's innings of 85 in 71 balls included 15 fours and a six and deserved a hundred, but Danny Bullock, again being used as a specialist death bowler, had him caught behind. With Bird trapped leg before for a patient 47, the Claverham innings petered out somewhat, and what could have been a massive first innings total was restricted to a decent 225 all out. Danny Bullock collected 5 for 19 in his short spell of 3.3 overs.

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Congresbury's exciting new opening partnership of Buddha Mangaldas and Kieran Palmer, both given licence to attack, went after the Claverham bowling right from the off and with Mangaldas playing a number of wristy leg side strokes and Palmer some more rustic efforts, they brought up the half century stand inside 10 overs.

When Mangaldas was bowled for 23 this brought Tim Baker to the crease. He batted sensibly while Palmer continued to swing hard at the other end, scoring 76 off 63 balls including 11 powerfully struck fours and a six before being bowled with the score at 139. Mike Fisher joined Baker and due to the start provided they were able to bat sensibly and take few chances and passed the Claverham total for the loss of no further wickets with more than five overs remaining. Tim remained unbeaten on 61 and Mike on 54.

Following this fixture Claverham remain league leaders with Congresbury now in second place.

n It was the Lloyd Richardson show at Congresbury as Claverham 2nds made sure the form book was not rewritten.

Firstly he removed the top three Congresbury batsmen with the new ball, then his quickfire 90 ensured an early finish as Claverham raced past Congresbury's under-par 167 to claim a seven-wicket victory and consolidate their position at the top of the league while the home team continue to prop it up.

Congresbury, after winning the toss, did not recover from their early setbacks and, at one point, were 95-8, with seamer Rich Carpenter weighing in with three wickets. Jason Coupland removed dangerman Reece Sullivan in a good spell.

Simon Rogers hit an unbeaten 46 and was well supported by Dewar (23) and Kearns (19) as the tail wagged, much to Claverham's frustration.

The Claverham fielding was excellent, exemplified by a great catch at second slip from the surprisingly agile Russell Cox.

The wicket looked full of runs and Richardson decided to chance his arm from the off, supported by the wily Roger Copeland (38) who, although heavily outscored, kept his end up well.

Lloyd, dropped twice and almost bowled in the first over, hit 14 boundaries and two sixes before mistiming a pull as a century beckoned. He was hampered by the Congresbury "tree rule" when three certain sixes were reduced to fours as the ball hit various leaves and branches.

Claverham lost two late wickets to Dale Barlow but victory was achieved with 18 overs remaining.

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