Fakenham in control of Norfolk Alliance Premier Division title destiny
Fakenham are still in control of their own destiny heading into the last game of the season, but only just, following a defeat to second-place North Runcton in the Alliance Premier.
Due to the bonus points collected Fakenham know that almost any type of victory against third-placed Stow tomorrow will be enough to secure back-to-back league titles in their final game.
North Runcton will be looking for West Norfolk neighbours Stow to do them a huge favour, as long as they can overcome Diss in their final fixture.
On a scorching afternoon Fakenham, having lost the toss again, were asked to field first.
Billy Buckingham and Luke Caswell were handed the new ball duties and together they ensured an economical, but not a wicket-taking start, as Runcton moved to 48-0 after 17 overs and the first drinks interval.
Fakenham had fielded and bowled well to this point and can justly consider themselves unlucky to be wicketless at that stage.
Lloyd Marshall and Ash Layer were introduced into the attack and both continued in the same vein of bowling well, but again unfortunately unable to break the partnership.
The stand had reached 78 before Buckingham returned to the fray and finally dismissed Jack Major (28), with Mark Skipper (2) following shortly after, bowled by Buckingham.
Buckingham was now bowling in tandem with Fakenham captain David Coyle who immediately dismissed Nick Freeman (0) to reduce Runcton to 86-3.
As nice as it was to have three down it meant Runcton now had their two best players at the crease in Ben Coote and overseas pro Kirwin Christoffels.
Coote was starting to look dangerous before Layer returned to bowl him for 18.
Fakenham were now getting the upper hand and looking to prevent Runcton from pulling away.
The Fakenham side were convinced they had Harry Lankfer leg-before-wicket off Coyle, but the umpire felt the ball was going over the stumps and he survived before launching a late assault, in conjunction with Christoffels, who finally departed for a brilliant 94, that took Runcton to a final total of 217-9.
Lankfer departed for 56 caught by Toby Hood off Marshall’s bowling.
All of the bowlers had contributed to the performance with Marshall 2-73, Caswell 3-46, Buckingham 2-29, Coyle 1-23 and Layer 1-45 picking up wickets.
Fakenham were forced into a change of batting order as John Ewart was struggling with a hand injury and so Billy Buckingham joined Keegan Monahan-Fairlie to set about chasing 218 to secure back-to-back league titles.
Unfortunately Monahan-Fairlie (seven) departed early and Ben Harvey joined Buckingham.
Both looked comfortable and moved the score along nicely before Buckingham fell leg-before-wicket to Joshy Ring for 11.
Harvey followed for 22 and Fakenham were 60-3.
Just one good partnership from here was needed to steady the ship. Instead, a double-wicket maiden followed as Will Dunger (0) and Luke Caswell (14) were both dismissed by Coote and Fakenham’s chances were starting to look bleak at 62-5.
Ewart came and went after a brief cameo, and it was now down to Oscar Campbell and Marshall to try and restore some pride to the scorecard and somehow scrape a bonus point or two.
But both players started to give Fakenham some belief.
Campbell hit the ball beautifully and Marshall rotated the strike easily.
The pair put on 56 before Marshall was inexplicably run-out attempting an unnecessary run and Fakenham yet again had wrestled the initiative from their own grasp.
With 60 required from ten overs and Campbell and Coyle at the crease, Fakenham were starting to believe, but when Coyle departed for 12, and Campbell, stumped by George Rawlings one run later for an excellent 45, Fakenham’s chances were dead and buried.
After Hood was dismissed by Coote, Fakenham’s challenge was over for 183, and they were defeated by 36 runs.
Ring Associates MoM: Kirwin Christoffels.