HEREFORDSHIRE gained their first NCCA Western Division 1 success of the season in dramatic style when they chased down Cheshire’s substantial target of 264 to win by four wickets.

On the penultimate evening of the game at Brockhampton, with Cheshire overnighting on 150-6, Herefordshire supporters were hoping that the victory target, taking into account the home side’s first innings lead of 19, would not stretch too far towards 200.

But, on the final morning, as Ali Chugtai (129) and Nick Jackson (65) were extending their seventh-wicket stand to 132, hopes of a Herefordshire victory were beginning to slip away.

After the visitors were dismissed for 284, however, Herefordshire began their run-chase in confident style with Connor Smith (29) and Ben Chapman Lilley (51) posting 78 for the first wicket.

With skipper Matt Pardoe contributing 40, the score continued to mount before a flurry of wickets saw Herefordshire slip to 144-4 and then 183-5.

But Henry Cullen (73 not out) steadied things before guiding the side to victory with help from Jake Rowe (19) and then Barney Morgan (12 not out).

Cheshire’s first innings of 238, after being invited to bat first, revolved around an excellent 88 from skipper Robert Sehmi as left-arm spinner Ollie Davidson (4-58) and seamer James Rudge (4-77) bowled particularly effectively.

Although Pardoe (61) batted well in the early stages, Herefordshire’s reply was a patchy affair and a first innings deficit looked decidedly likely at 168-6.

But Cullen, who scored 84 on his Herefordshire debut at Brockhampton last year, once again showed his liking for The Parks by scoring 61 in a seventh-wicket partnership of 77 with Morgan (36), only for the tail to fall away.

Even then, the possibility of a two-day finish was raised when Rudge (3-24) ripped out the first three Cheshire batsmen, including Sehmi for a first-baller, with only 12 on the board.
But Chugtai and Jackson still had starring roles to play as the scene was set for the thrilling finish.

Herefordshire’s victory leaves them in the middle of the five-team division and raises hopes of a further season in the top flight.

But their final game, on August 21, promises to be a tough task against title favourites Berkshire, although they can take some solace from the fact that the two teams below them in the table – Dorset and Cheshire – face off on the same day.

Before then, however, both of those sides have a further game to play as they have only played twice to Herefordshire’s three times.