London Maccabi Vale are just one win away from promotion after condemning North Mymms to their first defeat of the season in the Chess Valley League.
Losing the toss, LMV were surprisingly put into bat on a hot and sunny August day. Things couldn't have got off to a better start with Mark Landau, sporting some lovely and stylish grey track suit trousers, hitting 12 off the first over with the Mymms bowler clearly used to playing on quicker wickets than the usual slow but bouncy) Rowley Lane deck.
Both Landau and Joseph Greenwall Cohen got the innings off to a great start, pouncing on any bad balls and bringing up the 50 inside nine overs. JGC was eventually dismissed, pulling a half-tracker straight to square leg for a near run a ball 27 which brought Adam Brand to the crease, sporting everyone else's kit but his own due to leaving it at is previous game.
Brand survived a couple of early scares along with contentious shout for caught behind to eventually get into his stride and pounce on anything slightly over-pitched.
Together he and Landau put on an excellent partnership of 97 in just 17 over before Landau, starting to show signs of why LMV broke their transfer record (of a pint) over the winter having reached his top score for the club of 75 and was stumped trying to go over the top.
At this point, LMV were on 164 off 27 overs and a score of close to 300 looked on the cards. A typical mid and lower order collapse took place, with Adam Spooner looking impressive until he got bowled by a pea-roller for 10 and Grant Reingold looking at ease until he played one shot too many and was caught at mid-wicket for 18.
Brand finally went for just less than a run a ball 73 trying to cut one that was a bit too straight, and it was left to Benjamin Lederman (21) to muster the tail together to get LMV to a respectable score of 267 off their 45 overs, a good score, but perhaps 30 shorts of where it should have been given the score at the half way stage.
After a strangely uninspiring tea and the usual even less inspiring fielding teamtalk, Andrew Greenwall Cohen took first over with the express instruction of not bowling short to the North Mymms opener who bats middle order for their firsts in the Herts Premier on a Saturday.
He soon found out why as three balls in the ball was dug a bit short and several fielders had to go beyond the tennis courts at Rowley Lane to locate the ball. After that Andrew found his length and enjoyed the challenge of bowling at probably the best batsman he's ever bowled to.
At the other end, Benj Lederman, fresh from getting a 4fer against North Mymms the previous day, bowled his best spell of the season for Vale and besides a nick for four was practically unplayable in his opening spell of seven overs for 13. But it was Greenwall Cohen that made the breakthrough, with the clearly class batsman being allowed to get singles, the other opener tried to hit over the top and lobbed a catch to Andrew's brother, Joseph, at mid-off.
Andrew continued to toil away and was rewarded with the second wicket, getting the no. three out for 17 more than perhaps he should have got, having been hit very adjacent first ball.
Reingold came on at the other end and got the no. 4 out LBW. Joseph replaced his brother from the pavilion end, but fell to the same trap of bowling the occasional ball a bit to short which allowed both the Mymms batsman a four ball an over.
They say cricket's a funny game and just when LMV were starting to think that the two set batsman could take the game away from them a risky two, a bullet arm from the boundary and a smart bit of fielding from Russell Corin resulted in breaking a 50 partnership that had come at much better than a run a ball.
A few overs later Joseph was rewarded with two wickets in as many balls; first with a full ball lofted back to the safe hands of Jonny Gould at mid-off and then by a brilliant smart catch from Russ off the face off the bat off the opener who at that time had made a faultless and effortless 77.
With those two wickets, LMV knew that they had made the major breakthroughs and that as long as they stayed disciplined the result would go their way.
Brand bowled with great control and guile, only going for 21 off his first nine overs and taking an excellent catch running backwards off Ben Lederman, brought back on to clean up the tail.
Mymms eventually were all out off the last ball of the innings and LMV breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing that they now go into the game against St Johns Wood needing a win for promotion.
LMV skipper Neil Lederman told JC Sport; "In the field it was a great all-round display, especially from Adam Spooner and Grant Reingold, despite a couple lapses in concentration.
"We never took our foot of the pedal and put a lot of pressure of all the Mymms top-order. Landau, JGC and Brand did an excellent job setting such a platform and Benj showed us that when he tries, he is unplayable at this level.
"We've one game left, if we win we take another huge step forward for the future strength of this club."