CHARLTON DOWN 253-5 (18pts) beat BEAMINSTER 252-6 (7pts) by five wickets

COUNTY Division Two leaders Beaminster lost a high-scoring clash at Charlton Down by five wickets – but managed to keep hold of top spot.

Chris Park’s men were in pole position to record a sixth victory in seven games until Down’s successful chase of 253 was fuelled by a magnificent 116 from Nitin Joshi.

Charlton Down won the toss and elected to field but found Beaminster in good form with the bat.

Openers Park and Will Moss both made 28 and were dismissed by James Pretty (2-29), the former via Pretty’s dropped catch that popped up invitingly for Simon Dunford to grasp at short mid-off.

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Ross Baker plundered nine fours in his 59 before departing to Kieran Heath (1-43) but Beaminster stuttered slightly to 146-5 before in-form Adam Moss came to the crease.

The teenager smacked a stunning 84 from 67 balls, including nine boundaries and two sixes, while Ben Golledge (17) and James Edmunds (9no) also whacked sixes as Beaminster posted an imposing 252-6.

However, that score did not intimidate an attacking Down – even after the early loss of captain Jack Eveleigh (0) to Edmunds (1-48).

Joshi and Roger Frapwell (39) soon got to work in flaying the Beaminster attack, Joshi using an unorthodox style of batting, including charging down the bowlers, to score quick runs.

In quick time Charlton Down were 139-2, Golledge (1-20) striking with the wicket of Frapwell, who scored seven fours and a six.

Joshi then shared 61 with Nick Voss and reached three figures in a superb innings. He had amassed 116 in 104 balls before leg-spinner Ollie Bareham (1-46) ended his stay at the crease.

Joshi had done most of the damage and Voss then resumed, scoring the majority of the runs as Dunford (9) and Dan Stevens (1) went cheaply around him – the latter through a Will Moss direct-hit run out.

Voss, who gathered ten boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 71, safely negotiated a tense finish to bring his side home with three balls to spare.

For Beaminster, Park admitted his bowlers were not up to their usual standards.

He said: “I thought we had enough runs on the board and we went into the game having played at Charlton Down before, knowing how low and slow it is out there.

“We knew it was going to be tough but if someone offered me 250 before I would’ve taken it. In hindsight maybe we were a few short – I can’t blame the batters.

“It’s about as badly as I’ve seen us bowl for many a year. We just couldn’t find an end to tie up and they raced away. Our bowlers had no answers.

“That’s one game I certainly didn’t enjoy and it’s about as frustrated as I’ve ever been on a cricket field.

“The first 22 overs were just horrific as a captain not being able to get any control over the game.”

Beaminster turn their attentions to an away trip to Sturminster & Hinton on Saturday (1.30pm).

Park said: “We’ve got a lot of wrongs to put right.

“Hopefully we’ll put someone to the sword for a change, it would be nice to have a game where it doesn’t go down to the last over.

“We’ve only got one change so most of the team, especially the bowlers, can put it right at the weekend. I’m looking forward to.

“I can’t judge them too much on one performance. You’re going to get games in the season where things don’t go to plan.

“We got 250 on the board and I thought we could defend that – it’s just one of those things.”

Beaminster replace Dan Hillier with Simon Jones in their only change.

Beaminster: Park, W Moss, Baker, Fowler, A Moss, Hillier, Golledge, Edmunds, O Bareham, Hollely, Abeywickrama.