TWO young batsmen hit maiden centuries for their respective clubs as Dales came out on top by 45 runs in their GB Liners Marches League Division One clash with Kington.

Harry Ellis hit an unbeaten 119 to underpin Dales' 278-4 from their 45 overs.

But Kington were always in contention in reply as Sam Alford blasted 117 before the 24-year-old was the last man out as Kington were dismissed for 233 with more than 10 overs of their allotted 45 still to play.

"We have a little gem in Harry," said Dales skipper Ian Jones. "He is one of our most gifted batsmen but he has been getting to 10 or 12 and then getting himself out.

"He times the ball beautifully and I am really chuffed for him.

"We know Sam Alford very well as he plays for us in the 20/20 league and he batted exceptionally well.

"Marcus Jones dropped him off a caught-and-bowled chance before he reached 50 and, after that, we thought Kington might chase the target down, but Sam ran out of partners."

For retained fire-fighter Alford, the maiden ton for Kington was some compensation for missing out on a chance to play at Lord's for the fire service.

"I played some games for the fire service last year as a bowler," he said. "But I injured myself playing football for Leintwardine and so I've been playing my cricket as a batsman.

"I've missed out on playing for the service team this time and they have a game with the Army at Lord's this week.

"I have been playing at Kington for 10 years and this is my first century for the club.

"I know the Dales players as I play 20/20 for them so there was some friendly rivalry going on out there."

Dales' victory, their first of the season, raises hopes of avoiding the drop to Division Two in a campaign which has not been without its difficulties.

"We have struggled to get a consistent side out with holidays and work commitments," admitted Jones.

"We lost Kevin Howells who has had to retire because of injury and Ed Williams, whose wife had a baby earlier in the year, was playing his first game of the season against Kington.

"Earlier in the season we feared that we might have to withdraw our second-team from the league but we've had some great help from Herefordshire Cricket and from Luctonians which has really assisted us.

"We are very grateful to them."

Dales made the most of a good batting strip after being invited to bat first by Kington skipper Robert Stokes.

Ellis, whose unbeaten 119 came from 147 balls with 20 boundaries, received useful support from Jonathan Jones (20), Nick Palmer (40) and Chris Chadd (43), while Kington's most effective bowler was the experienced Duncan Morgan with 2-72.

Russell Palmer (3-39) made early inroads into the Kington innings and Wayne Bufton (3-44) and Chris Chadd (3-49) picked up wickets steadily as the innings progressed.

But with Alford at the crease, Kington were always in with a chance but that finally disappeared when he was the last man out, after clouting 15 fours and five sixes from 84 balls on his way to 117.

The win moves Dales off the foot of a table, now revised to take into account the demise of Hay and Jones is hopeful that the Leominster club can avoid what is now likely to be just one relegation place.

"We shall certainly be trying our hardest," he said. "But we have a crucial game against Brockhampton 3rd this weekend."