Horley snapping at the leaders' heels

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Horley 1st XI continue to breathe down the necks of leaders Alleyn at the top of Surrey Championship Division Five after taking eight points from a winning draw at Kingstonian.

Kingstonian opted to bat first and with familiar faces Will Taylor (1-52) and Ben Davies (2-54) opening the bowling, Horley set about the task of taking ten wickets as quickly as possible, with rain expected to play spoiler at some point during the day.

A few lusty blows in the early overs from Rashu Khanna (14) set the tone for Kingstonian, however, Taylor had him smartly caught by Luke Smith at deep square leg after taking one chance to many. With the score 18-1, Milan Patra (15) was being more watchful at the other end, and was joined by Jai Kedia (13), as both batsmen tried to get used to a track that was misbehaving on the odd occasion.

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It wasn’t long before the first rain delay, which slowed the momentum Horley were building up. Davies struck in the 12th over, removing Kedia and didn’t have to wait long for his next victim, trapping Patra lbw in the 16th, putting Horley in the driving seat at 48-3. Three quickly became four, as skipper Charlie Robins (2-23) replaced Taylor and struck in his first over with the score still sitting at 48.

Ben Davies took two wickets and scored 34 not out.Ben Davies took two wickets and scored 34 not out.
Ben Davies took two wickets and scored 34 not out.

Muhammad Atib Hussain (25) was trying his best to counterattack for Kingstonian, but Robins was not letting up the pressure and claimed another wicket just before the rain hit again. After another brief delay, Kingstonian resumed on 61-5 and with the game having now been reduced to 46 overs, Horley were in a commanding position.

Adam Stephenson (2-15) had been brought into the attack, with no success, just before the rain hit, and it seems the break did wonders for him as he claimed two in two balls, one of those being the crucial wicket of Hussain.

Kingstonian were in desperate need of a partnership to give their bowlers a respectable total to defend. Ansh Vaswani (51 not out) and Imtiaz Khan (26 not out) took advantage of some loose bowling, putting on 77 for the eighth wicket and managing to get their side up to 156-7 by the end of the innings.

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Horley had 36 overs chase 157 and sent out another new opening pair: with Regan Derham absent this week, Ben Remfry (22) and Aryan Patel (18) were tasked with getting Horley off to good start. This was easier said than done unfortunately, with Jacky Shareef Shaik (1-56) and Ansh Vaswani (1-20) bowling some good early tight lines, forcing Horley behind the required run rate. Kamireddy Jeevan Reddy (1-32) benefited from the openers’ early pressure, claiming Patel’s wicket in the 11th over.

CP Singh (21) strolled to the crease at 38-1 to accompany Remfry, but with Remfry trying to up the rate, Imtiaz Khan (1-20) had him well caught at mid off in the 14th over. The Kingstonian skipper was doing a good job of rotating his bowlers to make sure Singh and new batsman Davies (34 not out) could not settle into any kind of rhythm.

Singh was the next man to fall with the score on 75 after 23 overs. Like in the Kingstonian innings, Horley were desperate for a partnership, especially with overs starting to run out. Smith (22) looked comfortable at the crease as he tried to rotate the strike with Davies, sharing the highest partnership of the Horley innings before going for one big shot too many in the 32nd over, leaving Horley at 114-4.

In a moment of madness, the very next ball, Horley lost Anthony Puttick to a runout to kill any momentum Smith and Davies had built. Richard Waddington (11 not out) tried his best with some innovative shots to keep the score moving along, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough, with Horley coming up 14 runs short and having to settle for the winning draw.

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Horley, who are seven points behind Alleyn, travel to third place Cobham Avorians next weekend in a crucial game, with the top three only being separated by 15 points.

Horley’s 2nd and 3rd XIs were both unable to complete their matches, due to heavy rain showers.

The 2nds were playing Roehampton at Horley Row in a top-two battle in the Surrey 2nd XI Premier Division, but managed just one over. They remain four points ahead of Roehampton and play at home against fourth-place Shepperton next weekend.

Horley 3rd XI are still top of Sussex Division 11 West (North) but their lead was cut to 29 points as they had to settle for ten points from an abandoned match at Ram.

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For a long time it looked like they might complete their match, but one extremely heavy rain shower during the second innings left the pitch saturated and unplayable.

Horley had put Ram in and Oscar Hofmann and Ryan Smith took two wickets each in their opening spells, with keeper Dirk Douglas catching two, including one spectacular one-handed effort.

The first-change bowlers, Alex Field and Liam Adams, struggled to find their line to start with but both ended up with identical figures of 3-26. Field, swinging the ball well, bowled two victims and trapped one lbw while Adams bowled one and had catches taken by Douglas and Aidan Spalding.

Ram were bowled out for 88 in 22.3 overs and although Horley’s reply started with 12 runs from the first over, they were pegged back and were 36-3 when the last and biggest rain shower came and ended their hopes of a victory. Opener Ryan Bunn was 20 not out.

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Horley are in danger of losing top spot in the league table to Steyning, who moved up to second by beating Southwater and are now 29 points behind the leaders. They have a game in hand over Horley, with a win worth 30 points.

Horley 3rds are at home against fourth-place Crawley Nayee next weekend.

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