Saturday’s match could go a long way to deciding the destination of the title, as Grayswood seem unbeatable this season – and Tilford are, uncharacteristically, struggling to see games out.
While Finn Campbell was taking a hat-trick for Grayswood in a comfortable win, Tilford were slipping to their first home defeat since August 2019.
Unbeaten Grayswood played host to Elstead at The Green and were wary of their opponents, who had recorded convincing back-to-back victories.
The home skipper Alastair Gloak, returning to lead the side after his wedding, won the toss and inserted the visitors.
Iain Jackson and Alex Beckett opened the bowling and gave nothing away to the Lincolns.
Jackson then took three quick wickets and at 23 for three Elstead were in trouble.
However, Scott Tilson and Darryll Drain dug in and with the change bowlers offering the odd loose delivery took the score to 60. Tilson was looking in good touch but Cameron Kent got one to rise sharply to glance his glove and David Handley did the rest.
After that it was the Finn Campbell Show. Drain was caught by the hobbling Andy Major and with the score on 97, Bruce Forbes and Drew Byrd lost their wickets in successive balls. Chris Terry survived the hat-trick ball and with Keith Tilson took the score to 111.
Campbell was into his 11th over and had Tilson caught at point by Chris Holmes. Joe Lincoln was bowled first ball – completing a tough day for the Lincolns with the bat – and the hat-trick ball to number 11 Paddy Murphy saw the batsman get a good edge which was caught one-handed low to his right by the diving Handley.
It was a remarkable catch to secure the hat-trick to give Campbell final figures of six for 30 and Elstead were all out for 111.
Grayswood had plenty of time and a fast-scoring outfield, but there was still plenty in the pitch for the bowlers.
Joe and Ollie Lincoln opened the bowling with pace and accuracy and before long Jackson, Major and Peter Millard were back in the pavilion with the score on 23, the latter to a sharp catch behind the stumps by Scott Tilson, who enjoyed a good game throughout.
Elstead sensed victory and their fielding really backed up the bowlers.
Beckett and skipper Gloak picked off the odd loose ball from the change bowlers and ran hard to take the score to 83 when Gloak hit a long hop down deep mid-wicket’s throat to keep the door ajar for Elstead. However, it was not to be as James Barlow, off various parts of his equipment, and Beckett led the league leaders home by six wickets with 23 overs to spare.
Tilford went down to Grayshott by 14 runs to suffer their first home defeat for almost three years.
Having won the toss, the visitors were put into bat and were in immediate trouble as Huw Town-Jones removed the Grayshott openers in his first two overs.
Luke McBain and Lucas Hutchinson then led a recovery with a 60-run partnership until McBain was caught behind for the top score of 46, the first of three wickets for George Ellis (three for 24) who also bowled Hutchinson for 28.
Tilford were in control after Town-Jones returned to take later wickets to finish with excellent figures of five for 20 off his maximum 14 overs as the total reached 123 for nine.
But last man Rob Smith (26) joined Vish Kalubadanage (31) to add a crucial unbroken stand of 35 as the away side finished on 158 for nine after 48 overs.
In reply, Tilford also lost early wickets to Mark Richards and struggled against the four-man attack.
Further wickets fell regularly to leave the home side on 100 for nine, and only a last-wicket stand of 44 got Tilford near their target.
Last man Ben Matthews entertained the regulars with a quickfire 26 off 12 balls with two massive sixes, but with nine balls of the game left skied his last ball to the keeper – and so the long, proud undefeated run was broken.
Matt Cook was top scorer with 34 not out and for Grayshott, Richards finished with an impressive six for 55 in his 14th over.
Tilford travel to take on leaders Grayswood in the programme of matches which herald the halfway point of this season.
Frensham were another side in impressive form in Division 1, as they secured a comfortable nine-wicket victory against Brook.
With the game being played at Hindhead because the Frensham Fayre was taking place at the Hollowdene Recreation Ground, Frensham won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Frensham made inroads with the new ball with Brook struggling to foster any meaningful partnerships.
Jamie Glasson batted well for his 42, but the introduction of spin helped curtail Brook’s innings, reducing the away side from 84 for four to 133 all out.
A few late blows from Jonathan King helped the visitors’ tally, but Frensham were able to cling on to their catches to limit the damage.
Hilton Young bowled a tidy spell of two for 16, and Edwin Carrihill picked up three for 43, but Jack Blythe was the standout bowler for Frensham with figures of four for 11.
With 52 overs available, Jack Richards and Phil Moore opened the batting for Frensham and made a comfortable start to the run chase.
With Moore continuing his good form with the bat, the pair were able to generate an opening stand worth 112, with both players producing some excellent stroke play.
Richards was eventually dismissed, stumped for 54, but victory was never in doubt and Frensham were able to cruise home with nine wickets in hand, Moore finishing unbeaten on 65.
In Division 5, Grayswood’s third team convincingly beat ten-man Alton IV.
After early rain, and with a damp outfield, Grayswood inserted Alton and their opening bowlers Sumit Thakur and Anil Raghuvanshi earned early rewards for bowling good lines.
The Alton batters found scoring difficult against the accurate bowling, the Grayswood press and the long grass, with only Alex Freeman building an innings.
Alton eventually crept to 151 for eight in 43 overs, with Freeman 77 not out in a workmanlike effort, no-one able to stay with him for long.
The Alton total looked a little short on a drying outfield.
In spite of an early breakthrough, Grayswood’s batsmen went off at quite a pace, exploiting the conditions and gaps in the field.
Opener James Perrin made a rapid 38, putting Alton under pressure before being bowled by Max Foskett.
Alton shuffled their bowlers to attack but in spite of a number of edges, they were unable to restrict the free-scoring Thakur, who capped a great all-round performance – having earlier taken two for 24 off nine overs – with 84 not out, including a number of large sixes over long on and deft late cuts through the third-man area.
Youngster Freddie Wilson was the pick of the Alton bowling, looking dangerous throughout his spells and taking two of the three Grayswood wickets to fall. Grayswood ran out deserved victors, chasing down the Alton total with ten overs to spare.