Hemel Hempstead Town 1sts kept within touching distance of the runners-up spot in the Championship table after a six-wicket away victory at Old Owens on Saturday.
The win, their third in the past four games, was all the more impressive as they were missing mainstays Lewis Hodgins and Brett Penny.
However, they have also recently made a good pick-up in the form of bowler Mukesh Bhatt, who was a major force in Stanmore’s Middlesex League campaigns in recent years.
Bhatt, in his second game since joining Hemel, picked up an impressive 6-40 as Owens were bowled out for 172.
The depleted Hemel, in fourth spot in the standings, showed resilience with the replacements and were able to fill in the gaps to stay within 19 points of second-placed Shenley Village.
Opener Hemish Ilangaratne hit 77 in the reply to help see them on the way to victory.
It was his third 50 of the league season to bring his overall tally to 375 runs after ten games played.
Neil Morgan added 24 and Matt Dale an undefeated 30 as Hemel reached the target four wickets down.
Bhatt, whose son plays in the under-9s set-up at Hemel, grabbed his six-wicket haul in 16 overs and also had six maidens.
Eranda Jayasinghe made his first-team league debut and managed to pick up 1-22.
There are now four limited-overs games left but it’s still all to play for with the final promotion spot hanging in the balance.
This Saturday Town visit seventh-placed Dunstable.
Hemel’s 2nds and 3rds had no results after rain intervened.
The third XI were entertaining Division 6A leaders Mill Hill Village and the hosts had made 206-8 in their innings when batting first.
Opener Rhys Fowler hit 30 before running himself out, while Matt Petchell (27), Paul Smith (26) and Andy Turbutt (29 not out) chipped in with useful runs.
Mill Hill were on 78-0 after 13 overs before the heavens opened and brought a halt to proceedings.
Hemel 4ths lost by 83 runs on the road at Hitchin 3rds in Division 9A.
Rain seemingly the only thing that can halt Boxmoor
Undefeated Boxmoor 1sts were set to host near-neighbours Kings Langley 2nds in Division 6B on Saturday but the match was abandoned due to rain.
League leaders Boxmoor were seeking their 13th win in a row against bottom side Kings and Matt Smalley-Harris played the innings of his life for Boxmoor until they were thwarted by the weather.
Being asked to bat on a damp and slow wicket did not deter The Moor as openers Smalley-Harris and Ben Mannering gave the innings a steady start. The loss of Mannering in the 10th over, well-caught at square leg with the score at 34, brought skipper Richard Crowther to the crease. It was he and Smalley-Harris who set about some loose bowling in the windy conditions in a stand of 178.
Smalley-Harris continued his fine form, making up for last week’s near-miss, reaching a well-deserved century in the 33rd over.
Crowther hit a first 50 of the season and was beginning to let loose before being stumped on 65.
His departure allowed Sam Pimm to smash a quick-fire 32 as Smalley-Harris continued to ground the Kings bowling down reaching his 150 with a flurry of boundaries.
After a couple of short rain breaks the innings ended in the 47th over with Boxmoor in control at 310-3 and Smalley-Harris unbeaten on 168.
His career-best knock included 24 fours and took him past the 600-run mark for the season.
Tea was taken but a 20-minute deluge put paid to any further play.
Despite the attempts to get the game resumed, the game was called off.
This Saturday they visit second-from-bottom Hatfield & Crusaders 2nds.
Boxmoor’s 2nds lost by 64 runs away at Preston 3rds in Division 9B.
Boxmoor’s 3rds won by nine wickets away at Kings Langley 3rds in Regional Division B West.
Having lost the toss and fielding first, Boxmoor restricted Kings to 58 at drinks.
With one opener scoring freely after the break, it looked like the game was getting away from Boxmoor until Dan Webb took a sharp catch to remove the danger man off the bowling of Freddy Hockin (3-41) for 85.
Paul Biddle (1-19), Zia (0-20), John Scott (2-15), Gary Hampson (0-20), Mubasher Ijaz (1-15) and Azad Rasheed (3-6) all bowled tightly to restrict Kings to 165 all out.
The reply began with Kris Perera and Dan Webb opening and they stuck to their task to take the bowling apart.
It became a decent chase, with Webb (54) and Perera (66 not out) sharing an opening stand of 127. Hampson (21 not out) came in to the finish the game inside 20 overs.
The win gives The Moor a real chance of promotion with just one game left at second-from-bottom Langleybury this Saturday.