CRICKET: It’s full steam ahead as Woodhall Spa down champions Sleaford

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Woodhall Spa skipper Jack Luffman believes his side could sneak up on the rails in the battle for the Lincolnshire ECB Premier League title this season.

It was certainly a case of full steam ahead as they beat champions Sleaford by 29 runs in a thrilling clash at sun-kissed Jubilee Park last Saturday.

A sparkling century from open Sam Evison was the highlight as Woodhall rattled up 254-9 off their 50 overs.

Sleaford then staged a determined fightback but excellent bowling - backed by fine fielding - saw them dismissed for 225 off the final ball of the match.

It was a tight, tense finish. Woodhall’s overseas star Malinga Bandara thought he had struck off the penultimate delivery but the umpire rejected a confident appeal for a catch.

However, Bandara struck with the next ball, pinning Rhys Collins leg before to secure a maximum points victory.

As Woodhall celebrated, news came through that top-of-the-table Bourne suffered a shock defeat against Spalding.

Luffman said: “It was a good day all around - and a great win. Bourne are still in the driving seat. If we can keep winning our games, we might just sneak up on the rails. There’s still a way to go.”

Evison and Jonny Cheer gave Woodhall the best possible start with an opening stand of 132. Both batsmen were quick to punish any loose deliveries on a brilliant batting track.

Cheer went for 53, the first of eight victims for Sleaford’s New Zealand Test star Tim McIntosh.

Evison hit 13 fours and a six in his 100 before he fell to McIntosh with the score on 176.

Bandara’s 34 was the only serious contribution in the middle and latter orders as McIntosh hauled Sleaford back into the contest with 8-56 off 16 overs.

McIntosh (40), Lous Kimber (43), Oliver Burford (62) and Andy Hibberd (35) then made useful scores as Sleaford’s reply stood at 181-4 at one stage - leaving the outcome on a knife edge.

But Bandara (4-61) and Ben O’Brien (4-77) bowled superbly in the latter stages as Woodhall came out on top.

n Woodhall seconds suffered an agonising 14 run defeat at Sleaford seconds in the Premier Division of the South Lincs and Border League, despite a century from skipper Rob Bee.

Sleaford batted first and totalled 225-8 while Woodhall’s reply closed on 211-8 with Bee hitting an unbeaten 101.