Staxton edge Valley contest

Staxton v Forge Valley ,Staxtons Linden Gray bats 113072c picture  Richard Ponter.
Staxton v Forge Valley ,Staxtons Linden Gray bats 113072c picture Richard Ponter.

STAXTON retained their spot at the summit of the Readers Scarborough Beckett League Premier Division table with a closely fought victory at struggling Forge Valley.

Staxton took first knock at Wilson’s Lane and struggled with the slow bowling of Valley veteran Andy Holden.

Staxton v Forge Valley ,Staxtons Dan Bulman  bats 113072d picture  Richard Ponter.

Staxton v Forge Valley ,Staxtons Dan Bulman bats 113072d picture Richard Ponter.

Holden returned career-best figures of 8-19 from his 11.3 overs as he tormented the Staxton batting line up with an accurate spell, going at just 1.68 an over.

This was Holden’s 10th five-wicket haul, and he claimed the last seven wickets after Phil Wilson’s away swingers had accounted for two of the top three.

Staxton’s wicketkeeper-batsman James Armstrong top scored with 32 and he was supported by young batsman Linden Gray, who added 26.

Staxton finished on 133 all out at tea, a score that Valley would have been confident of hunting down on their own patch.

But they too struggled with the willow and found runs hard to come by.

Phil Holden, 25, offered some resistance for the home side, and a late charge from Craig Hartley, 20, almost saw them home, but Chris Brown, 5-42, and Rich Flinton, 3-33 soon put an end to the Valley innings, just 16 runs short of their target on 117 all out.

The result means Staxton’s gap to Ebberston in second at three points in what looks to be a title race that will go to the wire, and Valley’s loss leaves them stuck in the bottom two and in real danger of facing relegation.