A buoyant following of supporters came to watch Horley in their first ever Bernard Tollett Oxfordshire Cup semi-final at Shipton-under-Wychwood on Tuesday and were treated to another excellent display.
Horley stuck with their winning method of fielding first after winning the toss against the team 4 divisions above them, but were soon on the back foot as Jason Hunt (29) smashed the opening 4 overs for 41. Dave Eaton (1-23) held his nerve throughout the power play overs and was eventually rewarded with the stumping of Hunt.
Nick Tarrant (1-22) was once again entrusted with the crucial middle overs as Shipton looked to up the run rate after having been 75-1 at the half way stage. After just one solitary boundary from the Tarrant overs, Shipton skipper Simon Hole with little choice to hit across the line but was superbly caught by Andrew Stanley at midwicket.
Oscar Allitt (1-36) was brought back into the attack to bowl to the left hand combination of Anupam Sanklecha and Craig Wood and despite a couple of slogged 6′s he bowled superbly, Sanchelka eventually being caught by Papenfus at cover.
After 16 overs Shipton were 112-3 and looking to make the most of their wickets in hand but Steve Palmer (0-13 from 2) and Jon Hart (3-13 from 2) remained calm under pressure as Shipton posted a slightly under par 138-6 despite a last ball 6 from George Seacole.
Horley got off to a good reply as Steve Palmer struck 24 from just 13 balls to leave them on 38-1 after the powerplay. Dave Taylor (25) entered the fray after the departure of Palmer as Shipton’s spin duo of Hunt (3-29) and the evergreen Shaun Miller (1-27) began to turn the screw. Some innovative sweep shots and deft guides from Taylor kept the scoreboard ticking over as Dave Eaton (11) made 1′s into 2′s for him.
Once Taylor and Eaton were dismissed in the space of 4 balls of each other, the game was left in the balance with Horley needing 64 from the final 8 overs but with two new batsmen at the crease. Dave Clark (23) and Nick Tarrant (19) couldn’t prevent the rate required creeping up to 11 per over by the time Sanklecha returned to bowl what proved to be a crucial 18th over. After Tarrant edged behind Horley were only able to scramble two from the remainder of the over to leave an unlikely 33 needed from the final 12 balls.
After Pete Papenfus struck 9 from the penultimate over, including a straight six, it was left to Clark to try to hit Hunt’s off spin for 21. Targeting the leg side boundary, only two were scored from the opening two deliveries, before two consecutive 6′s from Clark left Horley needing 7 from the last two balls to win on fewer wickets lost. However a dot from the penultimate ball gave Shipton victory and sparked relieved celebrations from the home side.