Haywards Heath ended Crawley Eagles 100% start on Saturday with a 41 run win.
After a minor delay due to rain Heath were invited to bat first against the league leaders.
With the ball moving around in overcast conditions the Crawley attack threatened the edge of the bat in the early overs but were unable to make a breakthrough as Heath put on 45 for the first wicket.
Jonny Phelps (34) punished anything loose and played strongly down the ground until Mehboob managed to find enough movement to cause him to mistime a drive to mid-on. Chris Blunt (22) was joined at the crease by Isaac Leckie but just as a partnership was forming managed to pick out the cover fielder off the bowling of Zafer.
At 80 for 2 Heath were happy with the start but handed momentum to Crawley as Callum Smith, Leckie (29) and MedHaynes were dismissed within the space of 4 overs. This brought Tim Upchurch to the crease who, having found form in the 2nd XI the previous week, set about rebuilding the innings with Bailey (17). Heath progressed to 140 before the introduction of spinner Uddin accounted for Bailey - caught and bowled of his first ball.
The experienced Goulds got himself set and along with Upchurch attacked the spin of Uddin with 8 overs of the innings remaining. The pair took 24 from 2 overs, hitting 3 sixes between them, to quickly lift Heath to a competitive total. In a frustrating end to a superb innings Upchurch was run out for 38.
Goulds was undone in the final over as he attempted to get Heath past the 200 mark but the innings ended on 196 for 8, a fine effort after collapsing to 100-5. Zafer was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 35 from 15.
Regular first team overseas Matt O’Keeffe was occupied by sports day at his host school meaning that Jaydon Wright stepped up from the 2nd XI to take the new ball alongside Everett. Everett grabbed the first wicket in his second over but was immediately replaced by Phelps as Heath captain Smith looked to reduce the run rate after some wayward deliveries had allowed Crawley off to a quick start. Wright then struck in consecutive overs to remove key players Ul Haq and Suddahazai in a burst that was to prove crucial to the outcome of the game. When Phelps then took a wicket of his own Heath were firmly in control at 52 - 4.
Crawley set about rebuilding their innings but after surviving a 10 over period of tight spin from Phelps and Bailey, Zafer (26) looked to hit out against Bailey and was well caught by Everett. A few overs later youngster Nizam (25) finally lost concentration and slapped a long hop from Smith straight to Goulds at cover to open up the Crawley tail with 20 overs left to play. To their credit, despite the score being 95 for 6,
Bashir (18) and Uddin (34*) continued to take on the run chase and both scored at better than a run a ball. The introduction of Menzies brought about the wicket of Bashir - a crafty full toss steered to Blunt at cover – and he, Smith and Bailey picked up a further wicket each to finish the game. Crawley were all out for 155 in the 38th over, a crucial win for Heath that narrows the gap at the top and helps open up the league.