Downham Town travelled to Acle on Saturday in the Cecil Amey Norfolk Alliance Premier Division without inspirational captain Pat Yates but emerged victorious.
Stand-in skipper Addam Todd lost the toss and Downham were asked to bowl first on what looked a very flat pitch.
Jack Gould sensationally had Acle’s overseas player caught at deep square leg for 0.
After that, Acle set about building a big total with the boundary being found with regular ease, particularly by Handley who was severe on anything over pitched. The introduction of Joss Stuart (2-37) slowed the run rate considerably as he bowled a very tight spell with the help of a couple of sharp catches from keeper Rob King.
After Sam Sharp clean bowled Handley, regular wickets fell with the bowlers in the middle overs doing well especially Dom Corbett (1-30) and the run rate dropped until the Acle captain Josh Rowe entered and smashed the ball to all parts in the final few overs.
Acle finished on 230 which Town thought very gettable.
The Downham innings started badly, with Alex Stuart (1) being bowled in the third over. Ian Harrison and Harrison Gregory knuckled down and put together a very important platform adding 50 before Ian Harrison (28) was adjudged LBW.
This brought in the returning Tom Tansley to the crease, and immediately looked confident as he and Gregory cruised through to drinks with Downham 99-2 at the halfway stage.
Gregory (51) passed his half century but then almost immediately was caught behind, followed quickly by Gould leaving Downham 119-4 with 20 overs left.
Todd batted responsibly with Tansley as the pair put on 70. Once Tansley fell for a well-made 41 to the returning Cheema, Downham needed 50 from the last eight overs.
Duncan Lanchester joined Todd and the pair scored quickly with Lanchester hitting a big six over cover. Todd fell for a brisk 53 going for a maximum with Town needing 22 off four overs.
Joss Stuart scored a quick fire 17 off just nine balls as he and Lanchester (18no) showed all their experience to calm the nerves on the sidelines with Stuart stroking the first ball of the last over through the covers to send Town clear at the top of the league.
Shire Foods MoM – Joss Stuart.
Other scores, Premier Division
Garboldisham 11-1 (7) 9pts, North Runcton 171-9 (45; Mark Skipper 22, Dean Robinson 54, Benjamin Coote 32, Jack Major 27) 7pts, rain.
Old Buckenham 149-10 (49.1) 6pts, Fakenham 0-0 10pts, rain.
Downham Town 2nds 160-7 (35; Ian Simmonds 21, Andrew Arndt 32, David Grady 36, Simon Brooking no 43; Jasper Payne 2-19, Michael Dye 2-30) 5pts lost to Swaffham 201-5 dec (27.1; Jasper Payne 103, Alexander Payne 50; Robert Hooton 2-37, Simon Brooking 2-47) 23pts by 41 runs.
Fakenham 2nds 100-1 (20.2; William Buckingham not out 56, Peter Matthews no 31) 25pts beat Sprowston 2nds 96 all out (36.4; Tom White 9-3-19-4, Andrew Hancock 9-4-22-3) 0pts by 9 wickets.
North Runcton 2nds 109 all out (38; Bob Belcher 14, George Means 13) 5pts lost to Bungay 200-8 dec (38.5; Belcher 3-29, Joseph Mayes 3-36) 25pts by 91 runs.
Bircham 14-0 (6.4) 9pts, Garboldisham 2nds 193-8 (45; Liam Crompton 2-20) 9pts, rain.
Stow 2nds 173-6 (38.3; Matthew Blowers 20, Christopher Marchant 42, Jamie Cook no 37, Benjamin Wilcox no 24) 23pts beat Hethersett & Tas-Valley 2nds 172 all out (45; Jamie Cook 3-20, Simon Cooke 2-16, Jack Redhead 3-49) 6pts by 4 wickets.
Hockwold 248-7 (45; Anthony Ruddick 28, Roy Bland 88, Matthew Allsop no36) 25pts beat Lowestoft Town 2nds 38 all out (18.2; Euan Gilmour 2-9, Matt Allsop 9-2-27-6, including a hat trick) 3pts by 210 runs.
Snettisham 119-6 (28.5; Ryan Twiddy 22, Jonathan Forder 33, Matt Herbert no25) 22pts beat Old Catton 118 all out (44.5; Kieran Herbert 9-2-17-5, Daniel Cook 2-18, Damien Twiddy 2-20) 4pts by 4 wickets.
Davey and Richmond do damage as Stow overcome Thetford.
Thetford lost to Stow (25 points) - see separate story in our Friday (July 28) paper and website.