Spinners are grinners as Newbury maintain top spot with narrow win over Reading
Newbury maintained top spot in the Thames Valley Cricket League Division 4a after a thrilling 11-run win over Reading 2nd.
This was a match that was to be all about the bowlers and it wasn't long before skipper Kevin Mills was regretting his decision to bat after winning the toss.
Opener Matt Smith was out for a duck and the next man in Bhupendra Shekhawat wasn't far behind him, returning to the pavilion after scoring just 4.
The ever-reliable Charlie Anstey stuck around for a while longer but wasn't able to capitalise after seeing off the opening bowlers and was out for 23.
Middle order batters Rohit Sengupta (38) and Jagjit Singh (20) combined for a fifth wicket stand of 45 but were out within an over of one another before the hosts collapsed to 139 all-out, with none of the final six in the order scoring more than 11.
However, Newbury are renowned for having a formidable bowling attack and so it proved, with strike bowlers Jimmy Herdman and Kevin Mills opening up the tail to long time tormentors Charlie Anstey and Jagjit Singh.
The pair got the ball turning and Reading found themselves increasingly bamboozled, collapsing from the relative dominance of 70/2 to 128 all-out.
Anstey collected yet another five wicket haul, finishing with figures of 5-26 from 13 overs, while Singh claimed three scalps, finishing with figures of 3-23 from 10 overs, as Newbury established a 29 point cushion over second placed Thatcham.
Elsewhere, Sulhamstead and Ufton suffered a comprehensive 43 run defeat against Slough 2nd in Division 2b.
Casey Palmer (3-44) and Doug MacDonald (3-66) shared six wickets as Slough, who won the toss, were all-out for 251 in the first innings.
Karanvir Panesar (2-23) also chipped in with a couple of scalps but two half centuries in the middle and lower order and a 76-run eighth wicket stand helped the hosts recover from 168-7 to post a reasonable total.
Sulhamstead made an inauspicious start to their chase, losing a couple of quick wickets and slumping to 45/2.
However a 84-run third wicket partnership between watchful opener Simon Belcher (40) and the more free-flowing Adam Davidson (63) swung the game back in Sulhamstead's favour with the score 129-2.
The wicket of Belcher triggered something of a collapse, with six of the last seven batters failing to reach double figures.
The one who did was Chris Blackford, who scored a defiant 34 but ran out of partners as he finished unbeaten but the visitors were all-out for 208.
Meanwhile, Purley-on-Thames were on the wrong end of a resounding eight wicket defeat against White Waltham in Division 4a.
Having been put into bat, Purley made a disastrous start, losing both openers for ducks.
However skipper Chris Rackley and Patrick Allen were in defiant mood, seeing off the new ball and adding an important partnership of 66 for the third wicket.
Rackley was bowled just short of his half century, heading back to the pavilion after scoring a well-made 46, while Allen continued on with his extremely watchful innings, eventually returning to the clubhouse after scoring 42 from 106 balls.
James Leach was out for a duck, meaning three of the top five had failed to score, but a stunning knock from Andrew Clarke, who hammered 10 boundaries as he scored an unbeaten 71 from just 34 balls, helped Purley to a competitive total of 227/9 from 52 overs.
The visiting bowlers then embarked on a testing session that was more about toil than much else, despite a scalp each from Jacob Hearn and Caleb Maycock, as a second wicket stand of 151 took the game beyond them, with Waltham reeling in Purley's total in the middle of the 44th over with eight wickets in hand.
In Division 3a, Rehan Hassan scored a magnificent 92 but was powerless to prevent Theale and Tilehurst from slipping to a six-wicket defeat against Windsor.
Hassan's hard-hitting innings was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing first innings for Theale, who won the toss and decided to bat, as he scored almost half his side's runs as the hosts limped to 199/9 from 52 overs.
James Bozorth (4-58) then claimed all four wickets to fall in the second innings but an accomplished batting performance from Windsor saw them reach 203/4 in the middle of the 35th over.