Dereham beaten in Norfolk Alliance Division One
Dereham's survival chances hit another stumbling block on Saturday after a 26-run defeat at Topcroft in Norfolk Alliance Division One.
After electing to bowl first, Dereham were on the back foot as Topcroft's Ben Baldwin (78) helped his side race to 54 in nine overs.
James Harbour claimed the first wicket of the match, but Baldwin continued to hit the ball into gaps as the score went to 98 before he played his first rash shot, with the ball finding the hands of Dereham skipper Duncan Hewitt.
Dereham rallied as the slow pace of Max Cheetham put the brakes on, and Jake Anema claimed another impressive haul of 4-23, taking his league tally to 44 for the season. Cheetham claimed 2-31 as Topcroft crumbled to 176 for nine at the end of their 50 overs.
In reply Dereham knew they had to buckle down and be patient as the total was well within their grasp.
But the visitors got off to the worst possible start as they lost two quick wickets. David Lake's poor run continued when he was bowled and he was followed three balls later by Joe Marczewski as Dereham struggled to 10 for two in the fifth over.
Hewitt looked in great form only again to get the ball of the day which removed his leg stump. Neil Irons, returning from holiday, dropped the anchor in hope of trying to steady the ship. He was joined by Chris Vargeson who took on the pace attack before he was out lbw for 17.
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Irons dug in and kept the scoreboard rolling as he and Dan Lake set about the target, Lake hitting some classic shots. They put on 80 before yet another lbw decision saw Lake depart.
Irons (52) went past his half-century with a lofted straight drive but he was caught trying to put away a long hop which seemed destined to fall safe.
From there Dereham succumbed to the pressure of the chase, losing their final five wickets with plenty of overs remaining for a paltry 24 runs when they were in the driving seat.
Hewitt said: 'I can't believe our luck at the moment. We looked at this fixture knowing it was a massive game only to fail when we were so close. We move on in hope that a victory is just around the corner to ease the pressure.'
Dereham are at home on Saturday to Swardeston A.
Dereham B moved up to second in West Norfolk League Division Four with an eight-wicket win at Gooderstone A.
James Spinks took four for 19 and Ryan Widdows two for 17 as Gooderstone were restricted to 122 for nine from their 45 overs.
Arthur Lake (35) and Paul Taylor (64no) gave Dereham a confident start before victory was wrapped up in the 34th over. Dereham B are at home to Dersingham A on Saturday.