Ben Pilot reaches half a century but Monmouth loses to Vale
The versatile Ben Pilot hit a magnificent half-century in Monmouth’s atrocious four-point home defeat to Vale in a rainy South East Wales League Division Two clash.
Responding to Vale’s 168, Pilot (51) and skipper Ben Lander (49) led the chase for Monmouth, which ultimately fell apart in a thrilling finale at the Sports Ground.
Needing 11 points to win from last, the excellent driver guided Monmouth to the brink of victory before they were taken from cover, and the hosts eventually closed the score at 164-7.
In addition to fine shots from Pilot and Old Monmothian Lander, who hit six limits, Gareth Jones (11), Ali McIntosh (11) and Luke Harrell (11) all hit double digits.
To their credit, Vale was snappy on the pitch and prevailed in a nervous finish, which saw Jon Davies take 3-35.
A disappointment for Monmouth was an early injury to teenage wicketkeeper Ben McCluskey, who needed six stitches after being hit in the mouth by a bouncing ball.
Earlier, Vale had gotten off to a good start with the bat, in a contest reduced to 42 overs per side due to rain.
However, Monmouth hit back via Pilot (3-47), Jones (3-51), McIntosh (2-31) and Lander (1-14) to send the visitors away from mid-table with 11 overs of their innings remaining.
Lander (two) and McIntosh had catches, while Kit Skailes and backup wicketkeeper Andrew Dobbie did well on the field as seven Vale batters posted double-digit scores.
Despite the narrow defeat, it was a much better all-around display from Monmouth, sponsored by Bürkert Fluid Control Systems, which included debutant Rhys Jex and welcomed Leeds University student Alfie Robinson.
Chairman Joe Atkinson scored the match, sponsored by the Monmouthshire Building Society.
Monmouth have now reached the halfway point of their Championship campaign and will host Whitchurch-Heath at the Sports Ground this Saturday (12.30pm).
Meanwhile, Monmouth Seconds’ match at Croesyceiliog Thirds in the Division Nine was delayed for 90 minutes due to rain before being carried away after just two overs with the visitors from six unbeaten.
Barry Jones’ team included newcomer Paul Brooks, Matt Bryant and the dedicated Rick Parkes, who flew in directly from London especially for the game, sponsored by Miles Jupp’s excellent cricket podcast, Middle Please, Umpire.
This Saturday, the Monmouth Seconds make the short trip to Monkswood-Panteg Seconds (12:30 p.m.).
Fly-half Matthew Williams batted for an excellent 68 but couldn’t prevent Monmouth Thirds from suffering a nine-wicket home loss to Vale Thirds in Division 12.
Williams hit seven fours and two sixes in his stunning shot and was backed by Rob Pendleton (19) and Sam Uttley as Mike Maguire’s Monmouth went 137-6 from 40 overs at Chippenham Fields.
R Morgan (4-24) was Vale’s most successful bowler, while teammate Gareth Andrews (62no) then batted in to sweep the visitors towards their target.
Shannon Trigg (1-38) took Vale’s only wicket to fall, while Uttley, Andrew Wilson, Greg Thomas, Megan Maguire, Nick Holt and Harry Williams all tried hard from the field.
The match was sponsored by Bürkert Fluid Control Systems.
This Saturday, Monmouth Thirds makes the trip to Pencoed (12:30 p.m.).
Meanwhile, Craig Cook hit an unbeaten 20 and captain Helen McGloin scored 10 in a combative and spirited display from Monmouth Fourths, who lost seven wickets to Malpas Thirds at Caerleon in Sunday’s Division 13 East game.
Captain McGloin anchored Monmouth’s innings 82-8 on artificial ground with an assured 21-pass stay in the crease as the visitors beat their 40 assists for the first time.
There were also encouraging displays at bat from new Spain signing Marta Fernandez on his club debut, Sean McCluskey and Becky Townsend.
Returning Patrick Stubbs (1-19) netted an early wicket, while Jill Jones (1-5) also broke through after a good hold from McCluskey, and a superb pitch from Bea Jones led to a run-out.
Fernandez, in his first-ever hardball match, opened the bowling and delivered a fine four-man spell that cost just 15 points, while Pablo Nayager, Alun Jeremiah and Bea Jones also impressed with the ball.
Malpas made it 83-3 but the Monmouth players had a brilliant attitude throughout the game.
The match was sponsored by Latorre Consultancy and Monmouth Fourths will host Rogerstone Welfare Thirds at Chippenham Fields this Saturday (12.30pm).
Monmouth CC hold their weekly senior player net sessions on Thursdays at the Sports Ground from 6pm.
To get involved, contact Chairman Joe Atkinson by emailing [email protected] or calling 07502347780.