Fakenham extend title lead

Fakenham finished four runs short of victory in an enthralling home draw with Lowestoft on Saturday, but extended their lead at the top of the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division as Sprowston lost and Downham were rained off.

A much-improved Lowestoft (15 points) made 244 for nine, and held Fakenham to 240 for eight (13 points).

That left Fakenham 48 points ahead of Sprowston, who they entertain on September 3, and 62 in front of Downham, who they visit on Saturday, writes John Cushion.

Ryan De Coteau (84) looked set for a hundred for Lowestoft, and with Dominic Smith making 59 and Mpho Sekhato 50, they set a challenging target.

Ian Slegg (11-0-60-3) and Rudi Hillerman, watched by his parents visiting from South Africa, (13-0-58-3) were the main wicket-takers in an innings which saw no maidens bowled. Matty Burton (5-0-13-1), Joe Pipkin (11-0-54-1) and James Moy (10-0-54-0) were the other bowlers.

Fakenham skipper Ben Harvey collected a first-over duck and most of the early Fakenham runs came in wides, which eventually made up 38 of the home reply, boosted by 10 other extras.

At 118 for two, Luke Findlay was out for 34, and at 125 for three the first of three run-outs saw Stephen Gray depart for 49.

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The introduction of spin then slowed the Fakenham chase for victory. James Brown went for 32 at 183 for four, Pipkin (five) was run out on 197 for five in the 44th over of 50.

Hillerman (15) was the third run-out at 229 for six and with three overs remaining, 23 runs were needed.

That became 16 off two overs, then Phil Gray went for 49 with the score 234 for seven.

Slegg perished trying a big hit after making one (236 for eight) and Moy and Burton were unable to produce the big hits needed for a victory which would have been harsh on Lowestoft.

Fakenham skipper Ben Harvey said the 13 points were valuable. “But we were a little disappointed to fall four runs short when we got so close to victory.

“It was a vast improvement on our performance at Diss (the side’s first Alliance defeat), but we still didn’t play our best cricket. We felt our fielding was a bit slack and we gave them 20 to 25 runs more than we should have done.”

In Alliance Division Two, Fakenham A made 154 for six (seven points) to Saham Toney’s 232 for seven (17pts) to stay in fourth place.

Saturday sees Fakenham A’s home derby with table-toppers Dereham (12.30pm start).