Bexhill’s cricketers took a significant step towards survival with their third victory of the season over Eastbourne.
Bexhill followed a pair of cup wins against their local rivals with a 10-run success in an exciting Sussex Premier League contest at The Polegrove yesterday (Saturday).
Shawn Johnson, Malcolm Johnson and Ashar Zaidi all played starring roles in Bexhill’s fourth league win of the campaign, which leaves them a handy 36 points above the two relegation places.
Although Bexhill lost Dean Crawford with the score just nine after winning the toss and choosing to bat, the Johnson brothers fashioned a second wicket partnership of 147 to leave the hosts in a strong position.
Malcolm Johnson eventually fell for 64 in 110 balls with 10 fours - his second fifty against Eastbourne this season - but Shawn Johnson and Zaidi added 82 in quick time for the third wicket until the former was bowled by Devang Patel for 89 off 136 balls with nine boundaries - his second half-century in three games and highest score of the season.
Sussex professional Zaidi was 48 not out off 46 balls with six fours and a six when Bexhill made a sporting declaration on 249-3 with 5.1 overs still to be bowled. David Twine took 2-74 from 17.5 overs for Eastbourne.
The visitors got off to a solid start in reply with Dan Wells and Jamie Goddard forging an opening stand of 68 until the former was run out by Malcolm Johnson for 43. Goddard was caught and bowled by Josh Beeslee 10 runs later for 23.
Zaidi, whose one previous appearance in a Bexhill shirt came in the reverse fixture against Eastbourne, opened his account with the ball by trapping Dominic Shepheard LBW for 17 to leave Eastbourne 100-3.
But Luke Tomsett and Callum Jackson compiled a fourth wicket partnership of 90, which ended when Tomsett was caught by Shawn Johnson off Crawford for 39. Eastbourne skipper Mark Tomsett was then bowled by Zaidi for a sixth ball duck.
With Jackson looking every inch a Sussex professional, Eastbourne still appeared favourites until losing three wickets for one run to go from 217-5 to 218-8. Zaidi caught Jonathan Phelps off his own bowling and then bowled Jacob Smith before Jackson was run out for 72 off 75 balls with six fours and three sixes trying to take on Lloyd Waughman’s arm.
Zaidi was now controlling the sea end with his left arm spin and claimed his fifth wicket by having Twine caught by Haffenden to make it 227-9. Man of the match Zaidi sealed victory by bowling last man Ben Twine to leave Eastbourne all out for 239 as he finished with 6-56 in 21.5 overs.
Standings (played 14 matches unless stated): 1 Preston Nomads 281pts, 2 Roffey (13) 277, 3 East Grinstead 276, 4 Horsham (13) 233, 5 Cuckfield 209, 6 Eastbourne (13) 209, 7 Brighton & Hove 205, 8 BEXHILL 186, 9 Three Bridges 150, 10 HASTINGS PRIORY 116.