County League: Barkby United fall just short in thriller at Sileby

There's a big day of cricket in store at Hove
There's a big day of cricket in store at Hove

Barkby United enjoyed a positive start to their second Premier Division season as they edged a winning draw in a close-fought contest against a strong Sileby side.

The visitors included several debutants, including Adam Stapleford-Jones who opened at the top of the order with Tom Flowers after skipper Steve Flowers won the toss.

Things started disastrously as Flowers was beaten for pace by left-armer Klein in the first over, trapped in front lbw without scoring.

This brought another debutant to the crease in Dave Tew and they steadied the ship against a sharp seam bowling attack, seeing off the new ball without too many alarms and taking the score to 70-1 off 20 overs.

The Sileby spinners then came on in tandem and Tew (25) was caught at deep mid-wicket trying to accelerate the score.

Will Fazackerley and Ian Kirk fell quickly to Naik, and at 95-4 Barkby were wobbling.

But Stapleford-Jones found an ally in captain Steve Flowers who immediately found his pulling range against returning paceman Klein as the pair took the score up to 174 when the opener fell leg before for a superb 69.

An 18-ball cameo from Rob Townsend (28 not out) helped take the score beyond 200, whacking the last four balls of the innings to the ropes as Barkby finished on 225-6 off the 50 overs with Flowers unbeaten on 64.

Sileby began their chase at a rate of knots against new ball pairing of Fazackerley and Harry Funnell, racking up 32 off the first four overs until Funnell claimed his first Barkby wicket as Gale edged to Tew at slip.

Former Thorpe Arnold captain Gillett and Torr continued to punish the Barkby seam attack and motored along past 100, but the introduction of spinners Townsend and Drake turned the game on its head.

Townsend (3-37) had Gillett caught at mid-wicket by Kirk and an over later Naik gave a simple chance to Fazackerley at cover off the same bowler.

Drake then got in on the act as he enticed Kinch into a big shot, bowling him (126-4).

Opener Torr played one shot too many against Townsend and was bowled for a well-made 73 before Drake (3-34) removed Leicestershire county cricketer Klein and Glennon in quick succession to leave Sileby teetering on 168-7.

Smith and Pullen played sensibly to edge the hosts towards the 200 mark, but Fazackerley returned to dismiss Pullen with a quick yorker, and a few overs later Funnell had Smith caught by Morris with just 19 runs left to win.

With the light fading quickly and the game on a knife-edge, the hosts needed just four to win off the last over.

Funnell (2-51) held his nerve and bowled an excellent six balls as both sides fell agonisingly short of victory, Sileby closing two short on 223-9.

Barkby host Loughborough Town at Beeby Road on Saturday (12.30pm).