Gary Weedon could not contain his excitement after East Preston Cricket Club came out on top in a crucial Sussex League Division 5 West tussle with fellow title-chasers Chippingdale.
Leaders East Preston sealed a five-wicket triumph over nearest challengers Chipps in what proved to be a controversial encounter.
Star seamer Lucy Uncles (5-15) produced a blinding spell to see ten-man Chipps skittled out for 100 off 29.2 overs.
Skipper Weedon (48) played a fine knock in reply as East Preston stumbled home, reaching 104-5.
A seventh win from ten matches this season moves EP 31 points clear at the top but captain Weedon was relieved to record victory in a fixture filled with controversy.
He said: “I was ecstatic with our win. It was good to get 30 points against our nearest rivals at the time and also happy with the end result in a game with some controversy.
“One of their batsmen (Giles Robinson) was delayed for the early start due to train cancellations and unfortunately was unable to make their innings when they were nine down. In the spirit of the game we had an extended drinks break and I allowed extra time, but after ten minutes we decided that we couldn’t wait any longer. Apart from this issue I was delighted with our bowling performance.
“I was very disappointed that their captain and opening bowler ran Paul (McCafferty) out at the non-strikers end as he was backing up - after he had entered his delivery stride. The reasoning was that they done the same against other opposition but this is something I don’t like to see in the game and not what I give my Saturday up for. They upheld their appeal and we soon found ourselves 13-3.
“We were able to build a couple of partnerships which saw us over the line.”
Switching to the win/lose format, the match started at an earlier time of 9.30am in an attempt for both teams to watch England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden
Chipps won the toss and elected to bat first in tricky conditions. They got off to a tricky start, losing two wickets for 17 runs. Chippingdale’s Aaron Tugnutt and Jason Dows attempted to steady the ship with a 57-run partnership. But their innings came crashing to a halt, losing their final seven wickets for 25 runs. Uncles (5-15) lead a ruthless East Preston attack as they bowled Chipps out for 100. In the reply East Preston were quickly on the back-foot foot, slipping to 16-3 and 40-4.
But skipper Weedon rescued his side before falling two shy of his half-century. Tom Reeves helped steer East Preston home with a useful unbeaten 21.
Chippingdale skipper Josh Bourne said: “We didn’t perform as we have done previously this season and East Preston were the better team on the day. Their bowlers stayed disciplined to good lines and lengths and evidently were more patient than our batsmen.
“Things weren’t going our way from the beginning as we had to start with ten players due to the early start.
“The East Preston skipper kindly allowed us the length of a drinks break for him to arrive, however, not all of the players agreed with this.
“We went on to attempt to defend our total of 100, I noticed their batsman was backing up outside of the crease. I reminded him hat there have been new laws put in place this year and that you can be now run-out that way, so on the last ball of the over I took the opportunity.
"I’m happy with how our guys performed in the second innings but in the end it was too low a total to defend. I believe that the cricket being played should do the talking and personal comments and verbal abuse to the opposition players is unnecessary. Full credit to East Preston for the way they performed.”
Leaders East Preston are at third-placed Southwater on Saturday, while Chippingdale welcome West Wittering on the same day.