Belvoir CC up to third in top flight as Neville stars again

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Joe Bottomley (2 for 32) and Phil Irvine (3 for 42) exploited early movement in the air and off the pitch as Belvoir reduced Balderton to 11-4 inside six overs.

But thoughts of an early finish were blunted as Steve Ryder (41) and skipper Tim Clipsham (32) who embarked on an 86-run fifth-wicket stand, showing industrial grade grit in the face of continued seam excellence.

Ryder’s first attempt to go over the top resulted in a finely-judged catch at deep mid-on by Gareth King which proved the game’s main turning point.

In the next over, bowled by King himself (2 for 38), two more wickets fell to his subtle spin with the score on 97.

Chris Dobbie (39 not out) and Dan Pinfold (36) scuttled their way to 171 before the latter became the second victim of keeper Ryan Lewis.

Belvoir’s ground fielding was sharp throughout, saving 20 to 30 runs as Balderton looked to defend 184.

The hosts found themselves pegged back on 58-4, but Tom Neville (86 not out) remained resolute and was joined by the energetic Shay Brady (32) in a rebuilding stand of 65.

Neville’s completed a run-a-ball fifty without looking particularly aggressive, while his remaining 36 runs took a sedate 56 balls in a supremely well-judged knock which suited the team’s needs perfectly.

Irvine seemed to be the senior member of the winning stand, smacking six fours in his unbeaten 31 as Belvoir won by five wickets to go third in Division A.