CRICKET: Last man Johnson hits winning runs for Horncastle in nail-biting chase

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Horncastle travelled to Hykeham for a crucial Sills and Betteridge Lincoln League fixture on Sunday.

Hykeham won the toss and elected to bat on a beautiful day. Horncastle’s young strike bowlers Ash Bullivant and Tom Johnson put pressure on the Hykeham top order right from ball one with some quick bowling. Bullivant found extra bounce in the pitch that really troubled the batsmen.

Hykeham did not manage to build a decent partnership, with Horncastle taking wickets at regular intervals. Only Nick Green managed a solid score with a well made 58. Rob Bee and Rich Hickling bowled with excellent control and picked up one wicket apiece.

Michael Ackerman came on and took the wicket of Green and then helped himself to three more to finish with 4-20 off five overs. Pick of the bowlers though was Bullivant, who returned brilliant figures of 3-19 off his 10 overs. Hykeham were all out for 138.

Horncastle’s reply started well with Lewis Lovegrove and wicketkeeper Jonny Clark both finding the boundary in the first two overs. With the score on 20, Lovegrove mistimed a shot and was caught and bowled for five.

Ben Fidling joined Clark at the wicket and played an excellent innings to put Horncastle on the front foot. He played his usual aggressive way and soon had the fielders retreating back to the boundary. Clark was unfortunate on 21 as a ball kept low and bowled him.

Bee joined Fidling and together they took the score up towards the 100 mark. Fidling was deceived by a loopy spinner and was caught for an excellent 42. Nathan Whiting was next in and he got off the mark first ball with a pulled four.

Whiting was then adjudged lbw for 12, despite it appearing to strike the inside edge. In the next over, Bee was bowled for 24 and all of a sudden Hykeham could sense they were back in the game.

The wickets of Hickling, George and Applewhite fell in quick succession and Horncastle were suddenly reeling, eight wickets down and still six runs short of victory.

Bullivant played a gem of an innings at the other end to get Horncastle within a whisker of victory. Ackerman tried to finish the game in one shot and was bowled. Last man Tom Johnson walked to the crease with just two runs needed. Johnson played with a straight bat and the ball squirted away off the inside edge past fine leg and, with a sprinted two, the victory was Horncastle’s.

Johnson and especially Bullivant stayed calm when their team-mates on the boundary could barely watch. Bullivant ended with a crucial 15no to see Horncastle win by just one wicket.