WEPL Premier 2 Bristol/Somerset
Bishopston 279 beat Taunton 234 by 45 runs

TAUNTON face a mountain to climb if they are to avoid finishing bottom of the Premier 2 table after a damaging defeat at home to fellow strugglers Bishopston on Saturday.

The hosts won the toss at the Vale and put their visitors in but Taunton were made to be patient for the breakthrough, as an early experiment with spin with the new ball didn’t pay off.

Seamer Ben Phillips (1-18 from seven) was bowling well from one end and had visiting skipper Daaryoush Ahmed caught by Will Abell with the score on 36, but Jack Penn and James Taverner scored quickly en route to half-centuries.

Penn struck 10 boundaries in his 43-ball 55 before he dragged on to James Hayes, but Taverner received useful support from the middle order as Bishopston continued to score at more than six an over with 300 looking on.

It took the introduction of Archie Dunning to wrestle the innings back towards Taunton, as he took wickets at regular intervals - including that of Taverner for 66 - on his way to figures of 6-42 from nine overs.

Dunning’s spell helped reduce the visitors to 246-9, but a frustrating last-wicket stand pushed the score up to 279 before Hayes (2-49) accounted for last man Lawrence Cook (18).

Taunton’s reply got off to a flyer, as Charles Clist and Phillips added 78 in a stand which featured an impressive array of crunching straight drives from both batsmen.

Phillips fell for 38, well caught by Taverner at deep square-leg after top edging a pull, but Chirag Dhindsa joined Clist and the pair kept Taunton up with the required rate.

Clist had reached a free-flowing 61 at a run a ball before falling to his 62nd, caught at square-leg, but the hosts reached the halfway stage at 149-2 and were well set as the drinks arrived.

Taunton’s momentum was checked when two wickets fell with the score on 170, Dhindsa falling for 48 and Dan Quick for 12, and the hosts’ middle order couldn’t get going against some consistent slow bowling.

At 205-7 Taunton faced an uphill battle, and Bishopston’s Kiwi overseas Jack Hunter wrapped up the match in style with a hat-trick.

The paceman bowled Jon Kerslake (12) with the final ball of his eighth over before cleaning up Will Easterfield (1) and sending James Hayes’ off stump cartwheeling with the first two deliveries of his ninth.

Taunton are now 15 points adrift at the bottom and, though the promotion and relegation places in the WEPL are yet to be decided, two wins in their final two matches will at least give them a fighting chance of moving off the foot of the table.

It won’t be easy, however - Taunton welcome third-placed Weston-super-Mare on Saturday before travelling to second-placed Ilminster on the final weekend.

WEPL Premier 1
Taunton St Andrew’s 106-3 beat Bristol 105 by 7 wkts

STAND-IN skipper Tom Banton impressed with bat and ball as Taunton St Andrew’s picked up a much-needed victory against Bristol which keeps them above the Premier 1 drop zone.

The Saints, missing several first-team regulars due to a wedding, were asked to field upon losing the toss and the hard-hitting Jim Williams got the visitors off to a good start.

Williams was the dominant figure in an opening stand of 41, which was ended when his partner Lisle Durrans (6) fell to the consistent Michael Parsons (1-26 from 10).

Williams himself was next to go, trapped in front by James Hayman (2-29 from nine), and the middle to lower order showed little in the way of resistance as the Saints attack seized control.

Deven Bell claimed 3-9 from 6.1, Harry Clements took 2-18 from seven and Banton picked up 2-5 from three as the innings was wrapped up on 105.

Banton was then in a hurry to get the game finished, striking nine fours and four sixes in his 57-ball 72 at the top of the order despite losing the company of Martin Jenkins (2) early.

Banton and Alex Millard (17) fell in quick succession, but by then the job was all but done and Kyle Hopper (8*) and Kevin Parsons (4*) completed the task as the hosts got over the line in 21 overs.

This weekend brings another big game for the Saints, who travel to The Parks for a local derby against Bridgwater.

Neither side are quite safe from the drop, so both will be looking for the victory which would ensure a stress-free final weekend of the season.

WEPL Premier 2 Bristol/Somerset
Taunton Deane 208-5 beat Midsomer Norton 206-8 by 5 wkts

A MATCH-winning stand of Nelson between Calvin Harrison and Harry Smith set up a final over thriller at The Convent Field on Saturday.

The visitors elected to bat and openers Alex Lear (28) and Nick Cox (64) put on 87 for the first wicket.

Cox was dismissed by a sharp piece of fielding by skipper Rob Woodman - and it proved to be a key piece of fielding.

Cox’s and Lear’s removal precipitated a collapse and they were soon on 128-5 as Calvin Harrison and Shohel Rana took two apiece.

Dan Nolan stopped the rot with a fine 53 and he and Morgan Skipp (14) put on 66 before Harry Thomas came on to take three quick wickets and reduced the total to 206-8.

Thomas closed with 3-37 off six overs, Harrison 2-35 off 10 and Rana 2-30 off 10, while all of the Deane’s eight bowlers used kept it tight.

When the Deane replied, openers Woodman and Henry Mellor set off at a decent rate, putting 44 on the board in five overs.

Woodman was the first to go for 30 and Mellor followed soon after for 20.

This brought Harrison to the crease and he looked in fine form.

He and Harry Smith took up the challenge and kept the run rate going, each passing the half-century mark in good time.

They added 111 before match-winner Harrison fell for a fine 70.
Smith was joined by Sam Shaikh and the pair timed their run for the line to perfection, hitting the winning runs with five balls and five wickets to spare.

Shaikh was unbeaten on 11 and Smith on 57.

On Saturday, the Deane travel to Shapwick & Polden, who are embroiled in a relegation battle with Keynsham and Taunton (start 12.30pm).

West of England Premier League Somerset Division
Yeovil 175 beat Minehead 164 by 11 runs

MINEHEAD’S Somerset Division title hopes were all but ended by an 11-run defeat away to Yeovil on Saturday.

The home side batted first and made 175 all out, losing their final wicket in the last over after a final wicket stand of 54 between Alex Murphy (40) and Sam Fuller (15*).

In reply, Minehead made it to 40 for no loss before losing four wickets for no runs. 

The bowling of Mark Mitchell and Murphy (1-31) proved too good for the visitors’ top order, the former taking 5-21 from 10 exquisite overs to reduce Minehead to 57-7 inside 20 overs.

A partnership of 64 between Jay Darrell (50) and Charlie Tudball (23) gave their side hope, but the pair were left with too much to do, as Darrell was last man out with the score on 164, 12 short of victory.

Minehead remain third in the table but promotion is very unlikely with just two games to play.

They host mid-table Bridgwater 2nds this coming Saturday.

WEPL Somerset
Frome 82-4 beat Staplegrove 80 by 6 wkts

RELEGATED Staplegrove saw their tough season continue on Saturday as they were skittled at promotion-chasing Frome.

Staplegrove won the toss and elected to bat but soon saw Billy Pantling, who contributed 13 to the opening stand of 16, on his way back after he was clean bowled by Tom Barton, who went on to tear through the top order on his way to 5-28.

Soon it was 30-4 and Grove were indebted to 26 from Henry Graydon - the only batsman other than Pantling to make it into double figures.

Graydon was the last man to depart in the 27th over with the score on 80 as Grove failed to reach three figures for the fifth time in 16 league matches this season.

Nathan Dimond raised hopes for the visitors with three early wickets as the high-flying hosts slipped to 17-3, but Robin Lett blasted a quickfire 44 to put the result beyond doubt.

Lett was caught behind off Dimond, who finished with 4-36 from five, but Frome needed just nine overs to complete the chase.

Staplegrove face another tough ask this Saturday as they welcome leaders North Perrott.