Local derbies are always spicy affairs – even when there’s nothing riding on them.
But the match between Chichester and Pagham had extra spice as it was between the sides sitting second and third in the Sussex division-three table.
Chichester temporarily returned to Priory Park as Goodwood was unavailable because of preparations for the Festival of Speed.
Rain had stopped but under heavy skies it was no surprise tPagham captain Stuart Hanks asked the hosts to bat.
Wickets soon began to fall. A mixture of good bowling and questionable shot selection saw the hosts reduced to 42 for five.
Chichester needed a solid partnership and Matt Bennison and Mike Smith obliged, putting on 71 vital runs for the sixth wicket.
The victory and maximum points saw Chichester leap above Pagham and into second.
Smith was the more aggressive, scoring 34 off 37 balls before he chipped a ball up off the bowling of Joe Da La Feunte.
Bennison, who survived a massive appeal for caught behind early on, reached his first half-century of the season before he was stumped for 50. The tail fell quickly and cheaply as Chichester were bowled over for 146 in just 37 overs.
Pagham may have felt they had a great chance, but didn’t count on a fired-up Chichester attack. Home captain Matt Geffen removed Aiden Zammit with his first ball and Abz Patel struck in the next over to reduce Pagham to three for two.
The visitors’ innings became a mirror of Chichester’s as Matt Geffen got stuck into the top order and Pagham found themselves 34 for five.
Pagham also found a reliable partnership in Ryan Barratt and Ben De La Fuente and for a few overs they appeared to have a lifeline.
The pair may have relaxed slightly when the ball was thrown to spin bowler Jay Hartard. Just a couple of overs into his spell, De La Fuente slashed the ball high in the air towards the mid-wicket boundary. He picked out Bennison, the only fielder within 60 yards.
An over later Barratt chipped a return catch to Hartard.
With the partnership broken, Patel and Geffen returned to mop up the tail and Pagham were dismissed for 94, giving Chichester a 52-run victory.
Patel finished with three for ten from nine overs and Geffen five for 28. Geffen had taken his 300th wicket for the club, a magnificent achievement.
The victory and maximum points saw Chichester leap above Pagham and into second. They were given a further boost by leaders Crawley Eagles suffering their first loss of the year.
The gap between Crawley and Chi PP is just 22 points – and they meet this Saturday.
Stirlands v Horsham 2nd
The sun had belted down all week, but on Saturday drizzle had become the order of the morning. Nevertheless, the rain stayed away and Stirlands managed a repeat of their recent win over East Grinstead and picked up another 30 points.
Horsham won the toss and inserted the home side – a decision they were soon regretting as Will Gubbins and George Briance rattled along at decent rate, punishing anything short and wayward.
A 50-run stand became 100 and 150 as both batsmen cruised past their 50s. The race to 100 was tight until Briance began to open up his shoulders to hit over the top and did so again over mid-on to bring up an impressive century cheered raucously by the home crowd.
With the 200-run stand in sight, Briance tried one too many big short and was smartly caught by James Whitehouse off the bowling of Omkar Khot under the high ball for a brilliant 102.
George Coles immediately tried to continue the scoring rate, but was out for seven after Gubbins slog-swept for a single that brought up his 100.
Torquil Deacon continued his good form with the bat, striking fours and sixes. After 50 overs and with the score at 268-2, the Stirlands captain thought enough was enough, Gubbins carrying his bat for an imperious 123* and Deacon finishing 22*.
Horsham came out looking for a positive start, striking fours off Jamaine Bullen and David Briance. But Bullen cleaned up the top four wickets; bowled, caught and bowled, caught behind and bowled.
The introduction of Leo Wilkinson-Beal brought increased control and a wicket as Callum Jones was bowled for one. Bullen continued to pick up wickets with regularity.
Wilkinson-Beal bowled exceptionally, collecting a further two wickets to finish with impressive figures of 10-3-22-3. The victory was sealed when Bullen and Wilkinson-Beal combined to leave Horsham all out for 80, Bullen ending with figures of 13.1-2-33-7.
This week brings a trip to Goring.
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