REIGNING West Wales Cricket Conference champions Aberystwyth took a significant step towards retaining their title with a hard-fought win over title rivals Commoners at the Geufron.
The Commoners had scored 168 all out when batting first, with Umar Aslam (60) and Jacob Hughes-Pickering (40) scoring over half the runs between them, but Anthony Burrell (43) and Ceri John (29) led the successful Aber reply of 169 for 7.
After Aberystwyth skipper Harri Edwards had won the toss and elected to bowl, he and fellow opening bowler Caleb Spencer did well to reduce the Commoners to 22 for 3 wickets after 10 overs.
Operating from the railway end, bowler Spencer removed wicketkeeper-batsman Neil Stent for nought and danger man Rakesh Bhatia for 4, with both batsmen being caught at point by Jamie Holder.
After beating the bat consistently, Edwards chipped in with the wicket of number three Will Copeland, bowled for 4 by a ball that left him off the pitch.
It then fell to middle order batsmen Dan Ponting and Umar Aslam to set about rebuilding the visiting side’s innings.
Ponting seized on anything short and hit hard through the leg side in a composed knock, before Aber gloveman Robert Rudge took a steepling catch from a top edged pull off the bowling of Jamie Holder to remove him for a knock of 33.
Ponting’s partnership with Aslam would be the bedrock of the Commoners’ innings, with Aslam’s half-century including 10 fours and one six the highlight.
He hit powerfully down the ground during his 60, before being caught off the bowling of spinner Rowan Dunbabin.
Resistance also came from captain Jacob Hughes-Pickering, who contributed a valuable 40 at the end of his side’s innings to steer them to a total of 167 all out.
For the home team, this total would feel like 20 runs too many, following a number of dropped catches in the field.
Wickets were shared around equally, with Spencer returning excellent figures of 2 for 18 off his seven overs, Edwards 2-30, Holder 3-41 and Dunbabin 2-53.
Aber’s Andi Price also contributed one wicket for one run from his solitary over.
In reply, Aber lost Price (4) and Mel Jones (10) early in the innings to Aslam and Bill Summerfield respectively, and found themselves at 40-2 after 10 overs.
Opener Anthony Burrell was in good touch, and looked to punish anything pitched up from spinners Ponting and Summerfield. His fluent 43 included seven fours and one six, before he played on to a ball from Ponting attempting to run the ball down to third man. Batting with Burrell for the majority of his innings, Ceri John had made 29 before being adjudged LBW playing back to Summerfield.
With 114 runs already on the board and with 15 overs remaining, the home side could still be confident of getting the required 54 runs. But the visitors had other ideas, and their hopes of escaping with a victory were raised as Ian Lawton dismissed Rudge (15) and Gwion Penri during the fourth over of his second spell.
After also losing skipper Edwards cheaply, the home team were rescued by Gareth Lewis (26 not out) and Dunbabin (20 not out), who rotated the strike intelligently and found the boundary regularly during an outstanding partnership of 38 to steer Aber home with an over to spare.
Ponting finished with one wicket, and Lawton (2-26), Summerfield (2-30) and Aslam (2-35) with two wickets apiece.