Bexhill’s cricketers picked up a crucial first Sussex Premier League win of the season in a nailbiting bottom two battle.
Johnathan Haffenden’s side triumphed by one wicket away to Ansty yesterday (Saturday) thanks in no small part to Josh Beeslee’s six wickets, 91 from Malcolm Johnson and a match-clinching 38 not out by Ethan Guest.
After winning the toss and choosing to field, Bexhill bowled Ansty out for 201 in 56 overs with Beeslee recording career best figures of 6-64 from 19 overs.
The spinner made the initial breakthrough by having Jonathan Parker caught and bowled for nine with the score 38.
Bexhill later picked up three wickets for four runs to leave Ansty 70-4, Beeslee dismissing Henry Smethurst (10) and Jethro Menzies (4) before Jake Lewis ran out opener Harry Towler for 38.
Ansty rallied with an important fifth wicket partnership of 82 between James Newsome, who hit three fours and a remarkable seven sixes in his 61, and Leo Anderson (20).
Both were eventually dismissed within a run of each other, firstly Anderson by Shawn Johnson (13-3-29-2) and then Newsome by Beeslee.
Ansty’s seventh and eighth wickets also fell within a run of each other, again to the same two bowlers. Beeslee claimed his fifth wicket by dismissing Tom Woodall and Shawn Johnson removed Charlie Rutter, both for a single, to leave the hosts 163-8.
The runs of Jake Wilson (26 not out), supported by number 10 William Wright (8) and last man Jack Palser (9), enabled Ansty to claw their way up to the 200 mark. Wright became Beeslee’s final victim with the score 182 and Guest (8-1-14-1) got his reward for an economical display by dismissing Palser 19 runs later.
Although Bexhill lost Lewis with the score just eight in reply, substantial partnerships for the next two wickets appeared to put them well on course.
James Walker provided able support to Malcolm Johnson during a second wicket stand of 58 before the Johnson brothers added 60 for the third wicket.
Bexhill then lost three wickets for 10 runs, including Shawn Johnson for 22 and Malcolm Johnson for a splendid season’s best 91 containing 12 fours and three sixes, to leave them 136-5.
Tim Hambridge and Guest got things back on track until the former fell for 19 to make the score 163-6. Bexhill again looked set for victory at 182-6, but a trio of batsmen fell lbw to Anderson, who ended up with five wickets, left them 198-9.
That meant Bexhill needed four runs and Ansty one wicket in a nerve-jangling finale. But it was Bexhill who prevailed when last man Nick Peters blasted Anderson for six, although much of the credit should go to the young man at the other end, Guest.
Sussex Premier League standings (all played 6 matches): 1 East Grinstead 154pts, 2 Cuckfield 138, Roffey 137, 4 Horsham 127, 5 Middleton 120, 6 Preston Nomads 113, 7 Brighton & Hove 110, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 89, 9 BEXHILL 62, 10 Ansty 40.
Bexhill are also in action this afternoon, with a Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup second round tie at home to Preston Nomads. Play will start at 1pm.