Highgate leapfrog relegation rivals Acton with dramatic victory

Highgate captain Jake Sharland celebrates the fall of an Acton wicket. Pic: Max Flego

Highgate captain Jake Sharland celebrates the fall of an Acton wicket. Pic: Max Flego - Credit: Max Flego

Last-wicket pair Will Brookes and Scott Thaxton snatched a precious victory against Acton to haul Highgate out of the Middlesex County League Division Two drop zone for the first time this season.

The Highgate tailenders held their nerve to scramble the last eight runs and seal a dramatic one-wicket win over their relegation rivals with two balls to spare.

It was a spirited recovery from Highgate, who had looked doomed at 31-5 as they chased a target of 176, but Ben Sudell and Robin Glassberg led the fightback before Craig Gourlay, Ed Foster and finally the last pair saw their side home by a narrow margin.

Highgate won the toss at Shepherd’s Cot and put their opponents in, with Brookes (1-14) claiming an early scalp as he got rid of Alex Manning for a first-ball duck.

Sandun Dias (4-57) then ripped through Acton’s top order, bowling Sahil Kher (13), Andrew Curtis (16) and finally the dangerous Yasir Mehmood without scoring.

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At the other end, Gourlay (3-39) accounted for Andrew Niblett (0) and Matthew Reeve (8), with Dias dismissing Steve Rae (9) leg before as the visitors sank to a disastrous 58-7.

Acton skipper Alex Brennan led the counter-attack with a lively knock of 45 before he was bowled by Foster (1-23) and, when Glassberg (1-32) picked up the wicket of Alexander Fell (8), the end seemed nigh at 110-9.

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But Tom Forsdike (50 not out) and John Reeve (18) frustrated Highgate with a partnership of 65, lifting their side’s total to 175 before Gourlay eventually ended proceedings by dismissing Reeve in the 46th over.

Buoyed by that stand, Acton inflicted severe damage on their hosts after the changeover, with the top three batsmen – Jake Sharland, Phil Knott and Will Bowley – all falling to Brennan (6-52) for ducks.

Sandun Dias (7) and Muazam Ali (16) improved matters but, when they were both out with the score on 31, the visitors were scenting a win that would have given them a 19-point cushion above the drop zone.

However, patient knocks from Sudell (32) and Glassberg (48) kept Highgate in the game with a sixth-wicket stand of 86 before Gourlay (15) and Foster (19) added a further 34.

When Gourlay became the ninth wicket to fall, bowled by Forsdike (2-34), the home side were still eight runs short.

But Brookes (8 not out) and Thaxton (1no) proved equal to the task as they completed a crucial victory in the final over and leapfrogged Acton in the table.

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