EXMOUTH missed the chance to gain ground on leaders Bovey Tracey when they lost by three runs to Exeter in a Maer Ground thriller.
Exeter made 187 for eight in their 50 overs – opener Alex Barrow top scoring on 39 despite batting with a runner after suffering a back spasm.
Exmouth were always up with or ahead of the asking rate, but lost too many wickets too soon.
Bovey are still 23 points clear at the top and Bradninch in third have closed the gap on Exmouth to just five points.
Despite the best efforts of Exmouth’s lower order the Seasiders were all out for 184 with more than 10 overs to go. A five-wicket haul for Ben Green had something to do with it.
“The difference between the two sides was Ben Green who, on an unbelievably dead pitch, managed to take five wickets with some serious skills,” said Exeter captain Miles Lenygon.
“The other bowlers and fielders backed him up well.”
Richard Baggs, the Exmouth captain, agreed.
“Ben Green bowled very well and was the difference.”
Exeter found runs hard to come by after Barrow went with the middle order making bits and pieces in a running total of 94 for four when Barrow got out.
Tom Lammonby, Ben Sapiecha and Andy Mead went in a hurry as Exeter lurched to 117 for seven.
Robin Fern survived a confident shout for caught behind on none – a crucial decision for both teams.
Fern went on to make 28 not out and with back-up from Pete Hensor (17) and Jon Tipper got Exeter to 187 for eight.
“Everyone contributed and it was great to see our lower order bat with so much maturity,” said Lenygon.
“Hensor, fern and Tipper kept us in the game with the bat.”
“Fair play to Exeter, their lower order dug in and got a score on the board,” added Baggs.
Exmouth’s bowlers were mostly frugal. Callum French (3-18) had the wickets while Dan Pyle and David Lye kept the runs down.
Baggs was the Exmouth anchorman with 40, but support from the top five was non-existent!
Baggs felt a number of decisions that could have gone either way went against his side, but you can’t argue with them and at 61 for five the pressure was on.
Billy Rudolph (38) and Baggs got the score up to 107 for six – exit Baggs to the returning Green – but Rudolph and Jon Evernett kept going.
In a tense finish Evernett (26), George Greenway (20) and Alvin Pollard (10) took Exmouth close but not close enough.
Despondent Baggs said: “We gave away some needless runs in the field but a couple key decisions went against us
“A big positive was the way Billy batted which was great to see.
“There is a long way to go so we move on to this Saturday and Plymouth away.”