Oakfield Parkonians 131

Stanford 135-5

STANFORD’s emphatic victory over Oakfield Parkonians on Saturday set up an intriguing clash this coming weekend.

On-a-roll Stanford, skippered by Lee Knight, lead Shepherd Neame Division Three by 15 runs and will face second placed Harlow Town on Saturday.

And Knight cannot wait for the big encounter.

He said: “It’s going to be a big one for both of us because of the way the table is already shaping up.

“We’re leading on 71 points and Harlow Town are behind us on 56 points so this may be a crucial encounter when it comes to the end of season points.

“But I’m confident that we’ve got the right team to do it. It’s a mix of age and experience and we’re blooding young players as well and they are coming up strongly so that’s great for our performances.

“Although I have not played at Harlow before I have heard that it is quite a good track so we’re looking forward to it and trying to lengthen our three match winning run.”

Last weekend Stanford had the measure of Oakfield who they restricted to 131 all out, overhauling the tally for the loss of just five wickets.

Lee’s brother Adam Knight, was one of the best bowlers, skittling three wickets for the loss of just 29 runs.

The seam bowler’s tricky deliveries proved too much for the Oakfield top order and when combined with Greg Barr’s seam attack at the other end the wickets fell. Barr also sent three batsmen back to the pavilion.

The Stanford team have been bolstered by the allround capabilities of their Kiwi Dylan Edgington, but it was mainly home grown talent that did the damage with Ross Poulton dominating with the bat and only failing to reach his half century by a frustrating single run.

Lee Knight said: “Ross went for 49 which is so gutting as a batsman. But Ross has been great with the bat all season and – including Sunday games and Twenty20 – he’s already produced more than 500 runs which shows what a talent he is.

“We have not done anything special in the build up to the season, but we’ve got a nice blend of young and more experienced players. Martin Leslie has been in the team for a while and has worked his way up the order. Martin does not like to hang around for a long time – unless it’s called for – and he was typical for with the bat this weekend, scoring a great 25 runs off the front foot.”

Two of the team’s youngest players – Gable Hall school’s left hand spinner James Pearn and batsman Thomas Willatts – were blooded in the first team this weekend, with Willatts scoring his first run for the senior Saturday side.

Knight said: “These young players, who are both under 16s, came into their own in the field for us at the weekend.”

l STANFORD’s second string battled to a draw against West Essex at the weekend. West Essex posted 174, but Stanford could only reach 153-9 when they ran out of time. Earlier skipper Drew Robinson won the toss and decided to put West Essex in on the damp wicket.

The home side immediately struggled to make runs with only Omar Afzal (59) getting to grips with conditions. Bowlers Matt Higgins (3-47 off 18 overs) and Greg Cohen (5-78 off 23 overs) took wickets at regular intervals and if it wasn’t for cameos by Ahmed (18) and Aslam (19) West Essex would have struggled to make a competitive total.

And the 174 proved to be more than competitive and despite a battling 78 from Stanford opener Alex Ellis, Duncan Page (15) and Jordan Dodd (14) were the only other Stanford batsman to make it into double figures.

The game ended with Stanford 22 runs short of victory but managing to cling on to a draw. Usman Aslam (5-45 off 21 overs) and Murad Ali (4-44 off 13 overs) preventing a third successive victory for Stanford.