WEM’S first competitive action after the first weekend washout in their defence of the Shropshire Premier Division title got off to a nervy but successful start as they beat Allscott Heath by four wickets.

Sam Peate won the toss and gave the home side first go of the facilities but it was Tom Astley’s day as the first change bowler ripped through the Allscott line-up on the perfect start for him.

It was Danny Cohen who made the early breakthrough for Wem, having Carl Starling caught by Matthew Cohen for a duck but then Andy Flann and Chris Birkett reached their 50 partnership for the second wicket in a fightback.

However, enter Astley as Wem took their second sibling wicket of the day when Flann was caught by Harry Astley for 38.

Birkett proved to be a stubborn presence, hanging around for 59 balls for just 11, but he followed Flann almost immediately as he was bowled by Tom for 11.

Overseas professional Raj Biswa grabbed the first of his two wickets in removing Richard Benting for one but from there Tom Astley took over as he took the remaining four wickets for very few runs to bowl Allscott out for 73 in 33.4 overs.

He finished with fine figures of 7-21 from 9.4 overs, which also included five wides.

In reply, Biswa – who will be asked to replicate the runs of Rishav Das at the top of the order – gave a glimpse of what is to come when he raced to 31 from 35 balls to set Wem on their way.

But with fellow opener Harry Chandler and number three Alex Ollerenshaw removed cheaply, it was down to Peate to see the innings to a close as he scored a quickfire 21 not out from 18 balls as Wem reached 75-6 to win by four wickets.

The second XI made it a double winning Saturday as they won by three wickets in their clash with Much Wenlock’s first XI at home.

The visitors batted first after Wem won the toss and their total of 140 all out was bolstered by opener Dan Searle’s 36 before he was caught and bowled by Shaun Mostert, who finished with 3-32.

Andrew Marlow also scored 30 not out as Josh Gough finished with figures of 3-27 from 6.2 overs.

In reply, Evan Limerick scored 27 at number three, instead of his preferred five, but he was the only one of the top four to reach double figures as Much scented a fightback.

However, Wem’s middle order took the game away from the visitors with Paul Mitchell’s 26 not out as Wem reached 141-7.

On Sunday, the third XI completed the hat-trick with victory away at Bridgnorth’s fourth team, sealing an 81-run win.

Shropshire County Cricket League Division Four

A FINE performance from Prees’ Stephen Williams was not enough to save Prees from defeat as they tasted competitive action for the first time in 2019.

The Rec Men were forced to concede their opener against Iscoyd last weekend, despite the weather, but were back at it when they lost to Trysull & Seisdon on Saturday.

The hosts gave themselves first go and posted a challenging score of 267-6 as the top three helped themselves to runs; opener and skipper Neil Bennett scored a fine 78 from 62 balls with 12 fours and two sixes but it was number three Simon Cross who stood out.

He finished with a red inker and 88 from 91 balls but had to work harder for his score, posting nine boundaries (6x4, 3x6) as Trysull took the game away from Prees, for who Williams took 2-40 from nine overs, with one apiece for Philip Richards, Peter Richards, Own Silvester, and James Hopley.

In reply, Owen Silvester and Adrian Silvester both failed to trouble the scorers with Matthew Fowles following after for 14.

But Williams took the game to the home side for Prees, who were only able to field nine men, as he made a swashbuckling 91 to give some hope to the Rec Men.

However, only Josh Prince’s 22 offered anything resembling support to Williams and Prees finished on 160-8 (effectively all out) as they were beaten by 107 runs.

On Saturday they host Wheaton Aston at 1pm.

Calverhall were left kicking their heels for a second weekend running when their clash at Church Stretton was cancelled because of a wet outfield, following the Friday evening rain.

This weekend they host Acton Reynald at 1pm.

ISCOYD and Fenns Bank’s first competitive action this summer failed to bring maximum points, like their conceded opener with Prees, as they finished with a losing draw against Chelmarsh.

Duncan Wright won the toss and decided to allow Chelmarsh to set a run chase but an early partnership of 33 between openers Connor Glendinning and Matthew Evans initially upset Iscoyd’s balance.

However, Wright – at first change – removed both openers and Iscoyd continued to pick up wickets at a regular rate, with the visitors 69-6 at one point.

But a fine 77 not out from Stephen Zayler, including six fours and four sixes, meant Chelmarsh were able to stay out of Iscoyd’s reach and finished 150-9 in their 40 overs.

Wright’s 4-29 from 12 overs was the pick of the home bowling at the John Faulkner Ground, with Paul Gresty grabbing three late wickets.

In reply, plenty of Iscoyd batsmen reached double figures as a start but none could then go on and turn that into pressure as Zayler did.

Graeme Alexander’s 21 before he was caught off the bowling of Sam Best was the pick of the Iscoyd innings with wicketkeeper Ryan Jones making 10 opening the innings, Tom Wynne 15 at number four, while Duncan Chaplin and Steve Reece both made 11 in the mid to low order.

However, Chelmarsh struggled to take the last two wickets as Iscoyd shut up shop to avoid defeat, finishing on 103-8 from their 40 overs with Dave Gallagher and Mike Chaplin the not out men as Iscoyd picked up six points for their efforts compared to Chelmarsh’s 17.

Meanwhile, the second XI were unable to field a side for the trip to face Lilleshall’s third XI and were forced to concede the clash, losing five points in the process.

This week, the first XI travel to Cae Glas and the seconds host Much Wenlock.

Shropshire County Cricket League Division Seven

Coton Hall were beaten on the road in their opening clash in Division Seven but still picked up a creditable seven points at Ludlow’s third XI.

The home team batted first and it was opener William Wood who set the platform for a score of 174 all out as he posted a fine 64, with able support from skipper David Northwood (28).

Coton skipper Alex Cadman grabbed three wickets. In reply, Gareth Rich’s 67 opening up gave Coton hope but once he was out, the rest of the order offered little resistance and they were bowled out for 123.

Malpas came out the victors in what could have been billed as a ‘grudge match’ in the Cheshire Cricket League Division 4 against Mossley on Saturday.

The two teams were promoted in 2018 with Mossley initially claiming the title but after an appeal by Malpas, the Wrexham Road club were awarded the title after some final day machinations from Mossley.

On Saturday, Mossley chose to chase down a target and would have been delighted with their afternoon’s work in the first half of the day when they bowled their hosts out for just 65 inside 29 overs.

Skipper Keith Rickett, so often the bedrock of a good Malpas innings, was out for just one while his fellow opener Michael Rae was out for a duck as Malpas made a poor start.

However, a third wicket partnership allowed for some recovery as Adrian Waddelove and Mark Jones both reached double figures before the former was bowled and the latter was caught.

Tom Lyes came in to bat at number six and his crucial 20 was enough to help take Malpas towards 65 as the Wrexham Road tail offered little resistance.

While Waddelove contributed with the bat, he starred with the ball as he ripped through the visiting batting line-up to seal the victory for Malpas, with Mossley bowled out for just 25.

None of the visiting batters reached double figures as Waddelove had the number one batsman caught behind by Rickett and then the other opener bowled, before Lyes joined in with a run out.

The last five of Waddelove’s six wickets showed his unerring accuracy as he ‘castled’ all of his victims by hitting the stumps each time, finishing with 6-7 from 11 overs and six maidens.

Jordan Roberts finished the job for Malpas with 3-7.

This weekend, Malpas travel to Wistaston Village for a 1pm start, after some 20/20 action tomorrow.