North London eye promotion push next season after victory at Kenton seals survival

Sam Bardon is eager to spearhead a North London promotion challenge next season after they completed their remarkable escape from relegation with victory at Kenton.

NL, who took just three points from their first eight league games, won six of the next 10 – including all of the last three – to retain their Division Three status.

Regular captain Jack Atchinson plans to step down next season and all-rounder Bardon, who led the side at Kenton in his absence, is keen to succeed him on a permanent basis.

“Committee willing – and my wife willing – I’d love to do it permanently and I’m hoping I’ll get the chance,” said Bardon.

“It’s difficult to talk about momentum when you’ve got an eight-month break coming up. But certainly the way we’ve played in the second half of the season and the method we’ve found to win, I don’t think there’s any reason we couldn’t be challenging for promotion next year.

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“A lot of people, even within the club, suspected it was going to be a difficult year after the start we had. But we found a method that worked for us mid-season.

“We changed the way we approached the game from batting first and packing the team with spinners. On a couple of occasions we took the old ball instead of the new one and we found that worked for us.

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“But these last three weeks, we’ve won chasing every time, which is the easiest way to win games in this league.

“If the second half of the season had been our first half, who knows what we could have done?”

Bardon won the toss at Kenton and inserted the hosts – a decision that bore fruit as NL ran through the batting line-up for just 135.

Tom Wakeford, who had returned a seven-wicket haul in the previous week’s win over Harrow Town, opened the bowling and starred again with figures of 5-41.

He was backed up by Bardon, who took two wickets, and off-spinner Ted Greally with three, while Rich Hall took four catches as the home side were bowled out in 35.4 overs.

In reply, North London lost three wickets prior to tea, but Ralph Pedersen struck an undefeated 86 and led his side to a seven-wicket victory with the help of Alan O’Shea (21 not out).

Pedersen appeared to have won the game with a big six in the 25th over – only to have to take guard again as club rules decree that any boundary on the shortest side of the ground counts only as four.

But the NL batsman promptly repeated the shot with the next ball to seal the win – and lift his side to a final position of sixth in the table.

“Winchmore Hill – the first win of these three – was a big one for us, particularly coming the week after we’d lost to Barnes by one wicket, having had them 29-5 at one stage of the game,” added Bardon.

“To get 10 points in the next game was very, very important. I suspect had we lost at Winchmore Hill, it would have been a lot harder to get up for these last two games.

“There hasn’t been just one guy leading us out of trouble – everyone’s contributed. A lot of people have stood up and Ralph’s innings and Tom’s two five-fors are good examples of that.”

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