Hastings clinch vital victory in bottom two tussle

Elliot Hooper is watchful in defence for Hastings Priory against Ifield. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Elliot Hooper is watchful in defence for Hastings Priory against Ifield. Pictures by Simon Newstead

Hastings Priory’s first team secured a vital victory in a battle of the Sussex Cricket League Premier Division’s bottom two.

Priory triumphed by 87 runs at home to Ifield yesterday (Saturday) - their first league win since the reverse fixture on the opening day of the league campaign.

In-form Hastings Priory batsman Jake Woolley tries to cut one into the off-side.

In-form Hastings Priory batsman Jake Woolley tries to cut one into the off-side.

Half-centuries from Joe Billings and Jake Woolley - the team’s two form batsmen - and five wickets for Elliot Hooper were the highlights of a good day’s work in the hot sunshine for a Priory side which was as strong as it has been all season.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat in a match which started 90 minutes early at 10.30am to allow the players an extended break to watch the England football team’s World Cup quarter-final, Priory posted 240-9 declared in 57.2 overs.

On a rather green-looking wicket but with the outfield as sun-scorched as it’s been for probably two decades, Priory got off to a decent stand with an opening partnership of 65 between Ryan Hoadley (24) and Billings.

Billings went on to make a brisk 59 from 52 balls with 11 fours - his first fifty of the season to go with his two big hundreds - but after he and captain Tom Gillespie, fell to Daniel Smith (20-3-63-4), Priory were wobbling a little at 96-3.

Daniel Smith bowling for Ifield at a sun-soaked Horntye Park.

Daniel Smith bowling for Ifield at a sun-soaked Horntye Park.

That became 121-4 after Hooper - making his first Priory appearance of the year after concluding a work placement in Wiltshire - was given out leg before for 19, which included a huge six.

But a valuable fifth wicket partnership of 58 between Woolley and Harry Scowen (23) got things going in the right direction. And by the time, Woolley was seventh man out for 60 with nine fours - following his 90 against Cuckfield seven days earlier - Priory were up to 214-7.

John Morgan made a very useful 32 not out from 25 balls, with handy support from Josh Beeslee (11), to give Priory what turned out to be a more than competitive score.

Ifield started pretty well in reply with an opening partnership of 55, but with only two batsmen reaching 20 and none getting to 40, they subsided to 153 all out in 42.4 overs.

Eight of the wickets fell to spin, with Hooper recording terrific figures of 5-63 from 18 overs and Jed O’Brien also doing well with 3-26 from 9.4. Left-arm paceman Adam Barton was the other wicket-taker.

Things started to go Priory’s way when both Ifield openers, Mahad Ahmed (14) and Paul Clifford (39), departed on the same score. Two more wickets fell with the total in the 80s and the visitors were five down before reaching three figures.

Although Daniel Smith stood firm for 35 not out, the loss of skipper Jack Groves sparked a bit of a collapse from 128 to 153 all out, with one batsman retiring out.

The victory lifted Priory above their opponents and lifted them to within 13 points of Middleton - who occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom - and they will travel to Middleton next weekend.

Sussex Premier League standings (all played 10 matches): 1 Roffey 242pts, 2 Brighton & Hove 215, 3 East Grinstead 213, 4 Horsham 213, 5 Eastbourne 192, 6 Preston Nomads 181, 7 Cuckfield 139, 8 Middleton 125, 9 HASTINGS PRIORY 112, 10 Ifield 102.

See also: Hastings set for key basement battle
Batting blitz fires Hastings into semi-finals
Benefit from an ongoing discount on your Observer by joining our voucher membership scheme. Once you’ve subscribed, we’ll send you dated vouchers which can be exchanged for your paper at any news outlet. To save money on your Observer, simply click here (www.localsubsplus.co.uk)