CAPTAIN Russell Southwick has picked arguably his strongest side for Saturday’s crucial visit to Stourport as Redditch Entaco look to pile the pressure on Worcestershire League Premier Division leaders Stourbridge.
Teenage opener Olly Mason returns from injury as the Kingfishers look to build on the confidence gained from last weekend’s thrilling victory over local rivals and fellow title hopefuls Astwood Bank.
The win allowed second-placed Redditch to extend their advantage over third-placed Bank to 18 points and move within 13 of the summit as a result of Stourbridge’s tie with Bewdley.
The outcome was a bitter pill for Bank to swallow having dominated large parts of the match.
Having won the toss and put Redditch in, Bank piled pressure on the hosts who struggled against some high quality bowling.
Tom Field continued his excellent season with the bat as he top-scored with 63 and Haris Ali chipped in with a dogged 42, before Ghulam Moyhuddin added 30 valuable runs down the order as Redditch were dismissed for 211 in the 50th over. Dan Taylor took 4-45 as the spearhead of a disciplined Bank attack.
Redditch needed early wickets and got one as Tom Pedley was dismissed without scoring but Bank bounced back in style through Tom Underhill (77) and Sam Thomas (46) as they scored at five an over.
At 156-2 with just over 25 overs remaining, there appeared to be only one outcome but Redditch rallied as Thomas and Underhill were dismissed and Bank collapsed to 161-6.
As the home bowlers grew in confidence, Pete Alexander stood firm and inched his side towards their target but when he was dismissed by Ali for 18 to leave the score 180-7 it proved a killer blow to the visitors’ hopes.
Bank, who host relegation-haunted Evesham on Saturday, were eventually dismissed for 195 in the 46th over when Tom Phelan took a magnificent on the boundary to remove Jake Price off the bowling of Hasnain Nawaz (2-27). Noman Mohammed took 3-40 and Waqas Ali 2-28.
Redditch 2nds enjoyed a great victory at Barnards Green to move into the Division Three promotion places and on Saturday leaders Netherton are the visitors to Bromsgrove Road for what should be a cracker of a match.
Barnards Green were dismissed for 185 with Rehaan Edavalath scoring 116 and in reply opener and captain Liam Phelan led the way with an excellent 58, supported by James Bevan (23) and Amaan Malik (17no) as the Kingfishers ran out winners by three wickets.
The 3rds returned to winning ways and kept up the pressure on second-placed Cookhill in Division Ten with a two-wicket victory against Harborne 5ths in a low-scoring game at Entaco.
Harborne, thanks to a fine 56 from Tim Matthews, were bowled out for 135 but Redditch made hard work of the job and it was left to experienced Dan Protherough (39) and Harry Sharpe (30) to do the bulk of the work as the hosts got home in 42 overs.
The third-placed 3rds entertain fourth-placed Halesowen 4ths at Entaco on Saturday.