Hero Leatherday carries his bat in vain for hammered Cutthorpe
Heroic batting by Kevin Leatherday failed to prevent a heavy eight-wicket defeat for Cutthorpe at the hands of high-riding title-chasers Spondon in the Premier Division of the Derbyshire County League.
Opener Leatherday carried his bat for an unbeaten 92 that spanned all 50 of Cutthorpe’s overs and represented well over half of their total of 164-8.
But second-placed Spondon sailed home in reply, reaching 167-2 inside 42 overs, leaving the visitors badly needing to bounce back this weekend when they face a huge double-header against Swarkestone on Saturday and Ockbrook on Sunday.
After a week of wet weather, it was a crucial toss that the home side won, and they made the simple decision to bowl first on a damp wicket with a slow outfield.
Leatherday was partnered by David Bush in a slight change to the order aimed at seeing off the new ball. Both left well early on as opening bowlers Paul Allen and Tom Williams found good areas, but the pressure built, leading to wickets.
Bush pushed forward to Paul Allen and was caught at second slip for just three, and then Paul Burdett went to the very next ball in similar circumstances, leaving Cutthorpe 11-2.
Andrew Thompson (14) came in at number four and made his intentions clear from the outset. He struck two early boundaries and looked to be changing the tempo of the innings until he was bowled by Tom Williams (2-28 in ten overs). Steve Chapman was next in and played a couple of impressive shots before he was caught in the covers off Allen (3-33 in 13 overs), leaving the visitors 50-4.
Leatherday was joined by Asad Butt and as Spondon turned to spin, the score ticked along nicely. Leatherday started to come out of his shell and the pair took the visitors into drinks still only four wickets down. However, after Butt (10) had done the hard work, his first real shot of any intent landed in the hands of Oliver Baum in the deep off Chris Windmill (2-40 in 12 overs) with the total on 93.
Wickets continued to be lost as the innings progressed. So Cutthorpe were hugely indebted to Leatherday, who did the bulk of the scoring in his excellent 161-ball vigil, striking four sixes and six fours.
The opener’s defiance certainly gave his side’s bowlers something to work with after tea when early breakthroughs would be the key. Josh Savage and Butt opened the bowling, but despite a tight approach, the clearcut chances never materialised.
A marginal run-out decision went against them and a difficult catch was dropped, but Spondon’s opening pair, Baum in particular, started to score freely. Steve Chapman tried his luck and although he found the edge and had a stumping missed, the wickets just wouldn’t arrive.
As a result, Baum (60, nine fours) and Josh Brear (61, one six and four fours) put on 89 for the first wicket and it wasn’t until after the halfway stage of the innings that Cutthorpe made the breakthrough as spinner Liam Sadler lured Baum down the track for a chip straight to cover, where Bush took a low catch.
This brought Thabang Mokoena, Spondon’s overseas professional from South Africa, to the wicket, and he showed his class almost immediately by flicking a huge six in a quickfire 25 that bossed a second-wicket stand worth 40.
John McCollum did manage to remove Mokoena, who was well caught at mid-off by Thompson, but Cutthorpe could make no further breakthroughs as Brear stood firm to guide Spondon to victory alongside Alistair Dixon (14no) in an other profitable partnership.