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Acle on cup trail

PUBLISHED: 10:13 20 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:16 03 July 2010

ACLE, buoyed by their excellent victory on Saturday at Cromer, faced an even stiffer test on Sunday when they entertained reigning Alliance champions Downham Town in the quarter-finals of the Carter Cup, looking for a degree of revenge after going down to a one-wicket league defeat earlier in the season.

ACLE, buoyed by their excellent victory on Saturday at Cromer, faced an even stiffer test on Sunday when they entertained reigning Alliance champions Downham Town in the quarter-finals of the Carter Cup, looking for a degree of revenge after going down to a one-wicket league defeat earlier in the season.

The game turned was an incredibly tense affair in front of an expectant home crowd, swinging from one team to the other before finally Acle held their nerve to book a semi-final place.

Both sets of players deserve credit for the intensity of their cricket on a gloomy summer day.

Home skipper Paul Munford won the toss and elected to bat on a track that looked as if it had a little bit in it.

Openers R Porter and A Munford (17) got the hosts off to a flier, especially Porter (42) after an early let-off when Angus Stuart spilled an acceptable return chance off his own bowling.

Downham slowly put the brakes on and dismissed both Porter and Munford before lunch to leave the game well balanced at 76-2.

Acle needed to build on this platform but once young Darren Ward (6) and Kiwi Matt Short (23) had perished after lunch, the

latter to a tremendous piece of fielding, the impetus was firmly with Downham.

Dave Huggins tried to rebuild the innings with a patient 26 but the middle and lower order perished to a series of rash shots that meant the last six wickets had contributed just 18 runs. This left the home side well and truly up against it at 156 all out.

Acle needed a good start to keep in the game with Downham looking to play in their usual attacking style, and Paul Newman duly delivered, picking up the wicket of Alex Stuart (0) in the first over and Dom Tullett (12) soon after to give Acle hope.

But with Barnard and Phansgio continuing in attacking style it was game on. Skipper Munford turned to Grady and Rowe to continue fighting fire with fire, and both steamed in to the pleasure of a growing crowd at the clubhouse end. And both produced. They removed Barnard, Phansgio and Angus Stuart in an 11-ball spell that ripped out Downham's middle order to leave them 45-5.

Downham aren't champions for nothing, and Acle knew from the previous league encounter that they bat all the way down. And with wily skipper Lanchester still at the crease, it was still game on.

Darren Ward replaced the injured Grady and removed Corbett (9) to leave the game slightly in Acle's favour at tea with the score 81-6.

With Todd (16) and Lanchester (37) at the crease Downham continued to push towards their 157 target after tea until Porter, who had been bowling an excellent spell after replacing Rowe, over-pitched to Todd.

While a few players were looking to see which part of the boundary it had crossed, the others were rushing to “Judge” Newman who had clung onto a powerful drive at short-extra cover.

Ardnt came and went quickly to the returning Jon Lee and Acle were so close to the finishing line that the tension levels rose again. King (17), played excellently for Downham, and with Lanchester still picking up runs the game became closer and closer.

Then inexplicably, just when Acle were running out of ideas and the game was turning, King took on A Munford for a crazy two and some excellent fielding saw Downham nine down.

Lanchester came out to attack with his No 11 at the other end, and when they had got the target down to 25 he pushed for a two against sub fielder Westgate, who rolled back the years with a fine pick and a throw to win the game for Acle, sparking joyous scenes marking the fact that the club had got through to their first semi-final for over 20 years.

MoM: Paul Newman, great bowling (12-6-9-2) and a match- turning catch, pipping Porter's 42 and excellent spell of spin bowling (12-2-19-1).

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