HIMBLETON continued their impressive late season form as they secured a comprehensive 68-run victory over high-flying Belbroughton on Saturday.
A fourth win in five games secured their place in Worcestershire County League Division Two and gives them an outside chance of finishing mid-table in their first ever season at this level.
Electing to bat, the Meadow Boys posted a formidable 264-5, thanks in the main to a fourth hundred of the season for the stylish Ali Pretty (107 not out).
He was ably supported by Rich Sugden (30) and Sean Jenkins (27) in partnerships of 82 and 51 respectively as the top order set about the most dangerous bowling attack in the division.
A late cameo from vice-captain Jamie Alford (42no), including four mighty blows over the ropes, allowed the hosts to rattle up 62 off the last five overs.
Stuart Hawk, the division’s leading wicket-taker, suffered late on as he returned figures of 2-84 from 14 overs.
Spinner Tom Maidment (2-69) was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors.
Young George Clifton (3-43), returning to first team action, blew the visitors apart in his first over, clean bowling both Maidment and Pete Margretts for ducks.
Steve Thomas (20) and Peter Hawk (45) began to rebuild from a shocking 0-2 but neither could find any rhythm against the probing Clifton and Rob Perrins (3-31).
The pair got Belbroughton to 75-2 before the wily Paul Guy (3-65) dismissed Hawk and Perrins bowled Thomas with the score on 75.
Wickets fell steadily as Belbroughton looked to hold on for the draw but the returning duo of Clifton and Perrins mopped up the tail with 11 balls to spare in a tense finish.
Greg Dale (1-37) chipped in with the important wicket of Geoff Day (33).
Skipper Stuart Dickenson said: “That was as good a performance from my team as I’ve seen this season.
“Everyone contributed to the win but I was particularly pleased with the bowlers who stuck to their task in conditions which favoured the batsmen.
“I’m glad George Clifton was finally rewarded for his efforts, he always gives 100 per cent and Paul Guy and Rob Perrins never let me down.
“I’ve run out of words to describe Ali Pretty’s batting this season.
“After last week’s superb grafting knock it was lovely to watch him in full flow again.
“I hope he goes on to get 1,000 for the season.
“It was also great to see Jamie Alford back in form – his innings gave us momentum and set us up for a well-earned victory.”