Hemel Hempstead Town won all three of their league games on Saturday, including a fine eight-wicket victory for the first XI against Dunstable to stay in the hunt for promotion.
The first XI showed class in beating seventh-placed Dunstable to remain in fourth spot in the Championship and only 16 points adrift of the second promotion place held by Reed .
The league has reverted to 50-over mode for the last four games but it made little difference to Hemel as they brushed aside Dunstable.
Hosts Dunstable were tottering on 14-2 after Shihdu Kanade removed the openers. Hemel’s mainline spinners then took over, with each bowling their 10 allotted overs. Parth Mehta took 3-18, Lewis Hodgins 1-30 and Mukesh Bhatt 1-11 (with five maidens) as the hosts were skittled for 108 in 45.2 overs.
Hemel did not hang around in the run chase. Brett Penny hit 44 from 46 balls and Hodgins 39 from 61 as the visitors made 109-2 in just 19.4 overs.
A fourth win in five outings means it’s still all to play for with three matches left.
There was also a comfortable 59-run win for Hemel 2nds in Division 3B over a strangely lacklustre Harpenden III to complete a season double over the club.
Put in, Hemel made steady progress, Aaron Wilson (23) and Ed Langley (38) putting on 72 for the first wicket in the initial 15 overs, before a late flurry from number nine Charlie Hoskins (27) pushed the score to the 200 mark.
Harpenden started with 51 for the first wicket but tight Hemel bowling kept them behind the run rate.
The rate crept up and a spell of 8-3-8-2 from Eranda Jayasinghe put the brakes on even further, before tail-end clean-out merchant Suren Perera picked up 3-29 to end Harpenden’s day on 141.
Meanwhile, players, ex-players, members and fans gathered in the Hemel pavilion after the match to celebrate the 32 years of voluntary service from 2nds scorer and club legend Graham Nixon.
From his first game on May 24, 1986, Graham has scored 1,187 games, including 526 wins, 200 draws, 397 defeats and 64 games called off during the match.
The club have retired the Graham Nixon Trophy, which was given to the 2nds player he selected for performance of the season and the trophy has been given to Graham to help remind him of all the fond moments over the years.
Having lost to fellow promoted side Sandridge II earlier this term after beating them twice last season, Hemel 4ths made no mistake on Saturday, skittling them for a meagre 84 and then seeing the runs off with no wickets down in just 12 overs on their home Heath Park Nursery Ground in Division 9A.
John Peppett led the bowling with 4-7 from five overs and Dil Khan (2-10) and Dan Keene (2-17) were not far off.
Captain Mike Samuels (38 not out) and vice-captain Nic Benson (39 not out) reached the target for an early finish.
There was no game for the 3rds as mooted opponents Southgate Compton have dropped out of Division 6A.
Sunday was also blank as Leverstock Green have withdrawn from the Lords Chess Valley League and a replacement friendly was rained off.
n Dreams of an undefeated season were ended for Boxmoor’s 1sts on Saturday after a tight loss away at Hatfield & Crusaders II in Division 6B.
Runs were hard to come by as The Moor fell agonisingly short of their target by just three runs.
Bowling first on a damp wicket, early wickets arrived from Boxmoor’s Joe Hall (2-21) and Stan Harper (1-25).
The hosts’ Shafri top-scored in the match with 35, counter-attacking with a flurry of boundaries.
Jamie Vincent-Jones continued the wicket taking with 5-2-3-2, before leg spinner Prateek Malhotra (2-21) and Richard Crowther (3-15) ran through the tail to oust the home side for 89 all out.
Despite the early losses of Matt Smalley-Harris and opening partner Ben Mannering, Boxmoor got to tea at 35-3.
But Pimm couldn’t find his rhythm after the break, playing on to the slingy Mistry for 20 to reduce the Moor to 41-4.
A clutter of wickets left Boxmoor staring down the barrel at 50-7, Mistry taking 5-26.
Runs were eked out, leaving the last pair of Vincent-Jones (12 not out) and Stan Harper to try to inch the score closer only to be denied when Harper was out given out lbw.