STRUGGLING Belvoir put up a spirited fight to deny Kimberley their fifth straight win at Newdigate Street on Saturday.
Instead Kimberley had to make do with a winning draw having been pushed all the way until the final overs of the match.
With the visitors winning the toss Kimberley were asked to bat and started with a bang as Akhil Patel (80) and Jon Terry (23) rattled along at six-an-over with boundaries flowing on both sides of the wicket.
After taking the score to 62 Terry sliced a drive to third-man handing Sam Cliff (5-62) his first wicket of the day.
Cliff then saw off Kimberley captain Sam Ogrizovic (6) as he edged high to slip and had to go with the scoreboard reading 76-2 in the 14th.
Patel was still going strong though and with Nick Langford (41) he added a further 52 runs.
Initially the pair consolidated and worked the ball until Patel reached his half-century and then went wild flaying the bowling of Matt Irvine for 18 runs in one over, including a huge six over mid-wicket.
With several more booming drives taking Patel to 80 a century beckoned, but Lee Fazackerley (1-46) found the edge of his bat and wicket-keeper Ryan Lewis held on gratefully.
The scoreboard read 128-3 in the 22nd at this point and Langford and James Mann (19) compiled another 43 runs before disaster struck.
Sitting pretty on 171-3 in the 32nd a score of 300 seemed plausible but Cliff and the miserly Darren Bicknell (3-39) hauled Belvoir back into the game as Kimberley slumped to 184-7 in the 41st.
Langford fell first top edging Cliff to third-man and then Mann snicked behind.
Carl Blake and Paul Riley soon followed, both lbw to Bicknell, and Kimberley were in trouble.
Just when it was needed an important 35-run eighth wicket stand between Matt Wright (22) and Dominic Wheatley (17) saved the day although they both fell at the death and Kimberley had to settle for 227-9.
Belvoir got off to a flyer in response with Gurpej Landa (18) hammering Wright (2-60) for four boundaries in his first two overs.
Ogrizovic threw the ball to James Mann (1-36) for the fifth and he did the trick as Jack Copley (5) played onto his stumps.
In the very next over Terry held onto a sharp catch at slip to send Landa on his way and hand Richard Adams (1-30) a deserved wicket; 24-2 after six and suddenly the victory target looked miles away for Belvoir.
Instead of retreating the visitors rallied and several half-century partnerships dragged them back into contention.
Bicknell (62) anchored and with Olly Clayfield (23) 55 runs were added until Patel’s introduction into the attack did for the latter as he trapped him lbw; 79-3 off 19.
Belvoir’s skipper James Clayfield then added 61 with Bicknell taking the visitors to 140-3 in the 37th over before a moment of madness came from Bicknell as he attempted to slog-sweep Patel only to lose his off-stump.
Clayfield and James Needle (15) batted on moving the score to 174 in the 44th, but the run-rate was ever rising and it took its toll on the Belvoir batsmen as they went chasing boundaries only to find fielders holding great catches.
The returning Wright had Clayfield caught at deep-midwicket, with Terry safely holding on, and Needle caught-behind.
Then Patel, in his final over, burgled two wickets as he had James Fellows and Cliff brilliantly caught by Riley and Wheatley respectively; Patel finishing with 4-51 and Belvoir slumping to 186-8 in the 47th.
Kimberley searched in vain for the final two-wickets as Chris Glover and Wright probed but Belvoir did just enough to get up to 200 and earn another batting point and end an absorbing game of cricket.
The battle for the top spots in Division J continued as the third XI handed out a 43-run defeat to visiting Carrington.
Batting first they posted an excellent 237-5 from the 45 overs with Steve Bennett leading the way with 77 as he continued his fine form with the bat.
Paul Rockley also found himself in the runs with 66 and Kimberley could feel pleased with their efforts.
It was certainly too much for Carrington as they were all out for 194 in the 42nd over.
Dominic Brown led the charge with the ball taking an impressive 4-45 with first-rate support coming from Connor Richardson who picked up 3-30.
Alam Khalil (65) and Owais Hussain (45) offered some resistance but it was not enough and the third XI walked away with another 20pts which leaves them fourth in the table.
The fourths picked up a narrow 12-run victory at Lowdham.
Kimberley lost the toss and were put into bat first but when Chris Mozley (15) took ten from the first over, things appeared much better.
However after some variable bounce and no luck going Kimberley’s way they were stranded at 33-4.
But Kimberley fought their way to 119 all out in the 39th over with Paul Taylor’s 19, Paul Blatherwick’s 17 and Dan Huskinson’s 15 all contributing positively.
Lowdham set about chasing the runs down and at 60-4 they were well placed. But the game turned with a fine spell from Paul Newton claiming 5-22 off 8.5 overs and a great contribution from Paul Blatherwick with 3 for 6.
The final wicket, off Newton, was a brilliant one handed catch from Huskinson and Lowdham’s gutsy chase ended 12 runs short on 107 all out.