The firsts put in a tremendous bowling and fielding display at Elton Vale to knock over their 2nd placed rivals by 57 runs and move up to a season high 5th place.

With many players unavailable for both sides this weekend, we were forced to make use of the league's loan system, and managed to pull off a minor coup in securing the use of Bret Collins from Woodbank. Having plyed his trade successfully in Division 5 this year, Bret was more than up to the challenge of a "higher" level, and once again demonstrated his tremendous strike power, blazing an imperious 86 out of the first 102 runs before giving one chance too many. All of last Saturday's top 5 plus Kieran and top order batsman Rick were missing for one reason or another, so to get any sort of side out was good work; the 2s were even more depleted.

Indeed, Bret would prove to be the one player on either side who had any sort of command of the batting on a day when a soft wicket, sluggish outfield and tight bowling dominated. Indeed only two other Totts players made double figures. Marshy batted at 9 after arriving from a gruelling 427 mile stint on the postal round, while Kieran, who arrived from an equally gruelling 900 mile drive from Cornwall, didn't even make the team! Captain Watty also added a useful dozen runs at the end to help us to a reasonable 141 - disappointing after the start, but credit to Elton Vale's bowlers, especially Shah and Aslam who bowled 19.5 overs between them for just 22 runs and 4 wickets.

The key to any win was going to be a good start, and Doc and Marshy provided that, not only giving no scoring opportunities but taking wickets. After 13 overs the score had limped to 16-3, with dangermen Baker, Sajid and Ashraf back in the shed.

Farhan replaced Doc who had 1-10 from 7, and put in perhaps his best spell of the season, if not his entire TSJ career. His eventual figures of 3-21 off 12 don't reflect the control he exerted. With Marshy bowling 14 overs straight through for just 37 runs, the pressure was on. Wickets continued to come as the fielders and bowlers tightened the screw, and a quite superb bit of fielding saw Shoaib run out. Bret, Kenny and indeed everyone was exerting tremendous pressure on the batsmen, and Nick Marsh joined the party - despite a couple of attempted lusty blows, he picked up 3-15 to close out the game and secure one of our best victories this year.

While Bret obviously dominated the batting, the clear division in this game was the overall standard of bowling and fielding that we were able to bring; Vale just could never get going and the eventual score of 84 off 38 overs for a side that's been racking up 250+ on a regular basis was some achievement. The win takes the firsts up to 5th place; with more consistency and more availability, we might even have challenged for the top spots but this thirs successive win should guarantee a helathy finish in our first season among new blood.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

Beryl Avenue, Tottington, Bury, BL8 3NF
Twitter: @TottyStJohnsCC