Holmewood test title-chasers, but relegation alarm-bells are ringing

Worried Holmewood slumped to their fourth consecutive defeat in the Third Division of the Derbyshire County League to trigger relegation alarm-bells.

Monday, 10th July 2017, 1:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:45 am
Holmewood all-rounder Matt Ryalls on his way to a half-century against high-flying Brailsford and Ednaston.

But not before they had played their part in an entertaining fixture with high-flying title-chasers Brailsford and Ednaston, who wery much knew they had been in a game, come stumps.

The hosts had only three wickets and nine balls to spare after chasing down Holmewood’s total of 234-9 in the first leg of a successful weekend that took them to joint top in the table, alongside Walton-on-Trent.

However, there were some signs of encouragement for Holmewood, even if the reverse left them hovering precariously above the drop-zone, with only Etwall, Elvaston and Heanor Town beneath them and a cushion of just five points.

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Two of the obvious high spots were half-centuries for both Karabo Motlhanka and Matt Ryalls after captain Dan Moss had elected to bat first on winning the toss.

Botswanan international Motlhanka was again in sparkling form, opening the innings with 68, which included seven boundaries. He lost his first partner, Moss, cheaply, for one and after a stand of 37 with Gavin Horton (23, five fours), two more wickets fell in quick succession to Muhammad Ismail (4-42 in 14 overs).

However, a sizeable partnership of 112 for the fourth wicket with Ryalls turned things round and took the total of 165, with the latter firing 64, including four sixes and six fours.

Holmewood’s momentum was only broken by the introduction to Brailsford’s bowling attack of young Tom Deane, who removed Ryalls, and an unfortunate run-out that led to the departure of Motlhanka just 20 runs later.

Deane came on as only fifth change but proceeded to take 3-33 in six overs, and it took a valuable 33no (three fours) from Jack Jarvis, plus 12 from Matthew Birks, to inject some impetus into the visitors’ charge.

At the end of the allotted 46 overs, Holmewood felt that their total was no more than par on an excellent wicket, and given that the ground was only small, they knew they would have to bowl and field very well to contain Brailsford’s batsmen.

Opening bowlers James Taylor (2-53 in 14 overs) and Jamie Horton (1-49 in 12.3 overs) certainly did their best to keep it tight. But the home side’s top order was prepared to bat very patiently to create a platform for their run-chase, and knocks of 37 from Thomas Stevenson, 17 from Adam Randall and 12 from Duncan Player guided them to 70-1.

The tempo was lifted by New Zealand batman Tyler Johannsson who, going in at four, blazed 40 in rapid time, including three sixes and four fours, and shared a key stand of 52 for the fourth wicket with that man Deane.

Johansson was finally removed by Ryalls, who capped a fine all-round performance with 3-78 from 11 overs, and Motlhanka, who snapped up the first of three catches behind the stumps.

But Brailsford kept chipping away, with Deane adding 31 (three sixes and two fours) and skipper Stewart Edge 21, and although they wobbled on 199-7, their batting line-up had impressive depth to it, and an unbroken partnership for the seventh wicket between Ismail (23no, four fours) and Ben Walker (16no) got them over the line.