SANDFORD are clinging on grimly to their Premier Division status after a bitter-sweet round of fixtures.
Faisal Iqbal nailed an unbeaten century, his second of the season, in Sandford’s 45-run win over Hatherleigh in the basement battle at Creedy Park.
Hopes of moving closer to safety were dashed when news came through that Bradninch, the third side in the relegation scrap, had beaten leaders Sidmouth.
Sandford are still bottom of the Premier table – and no closer to safety than they were before!
Richard Foan, the Sandford skipper, remains optimistic his side can claw their way to safety.
“I still feel two more good wins in the next four games will get us close,” said Foan.
“We can't worry about other results, but just have to keep doing our best to win games and pick up as many points as possible.”
Sandford’s total of 264 for four against Hatherleigh was anchored by Iqbal, who went in at 12 for one and was still there at the end, unbeaten on 102.
Along the way there were stands of 41 with Foan (26), 93 with Neil Bettis (42) and 105 with veteran Adrian Small (57).
Dan Fogerty (2-39) was the only Hatherleigh bowler to strike twice.
Hatherleigh kept going despite setbacks along the way – they were 137 for six at one stage – with Gareth Tidball driving them on.
Rob Fishleigh (36) made early runs then Tidball, in at 46 for three, shored up one end while wickets fell to Jamie Palmer (2-32) and Foan at the other.
A stand of 64 between Tidball (83) and Simon Gillespie (28) kept Hatherleigh in the game longer than looked likely.
Foan spinning out Tidball was the beginning of the end and he took two more wickets to finish with five for 38 as Hatherleigh went from 201 for six to 219 all out.
“It was another great, all-round performance,” said Foan.
“All the batters did their jobs and we bowled well to restrict Hatherleigh on a very flat pitch.
“Faisal batted very well again but Adrian's innings really was the difference between the two sides.
“We bowled to our plans and showed that we are more then capable of competing in this division.”
Beaten captain Mark Lake had this to say: “We bowled decently and kept Sandford to a par score on a very good wicket.
“Gareth batted really well but no one else got in and we were always behind the rate and could never catch up.”