A magnificent all-round performance from winter signing Shawn Johnson guided Calmore Sports into round three of the Voneus National Village Knockout.

But the four run victory over local rivals Paultons was not without a serious scare as the hosts looked to be cruising to victory in atrocious conditions late on before Johnson and skipper Mark Lavelle pulled the game around in our favour with the ball to see us across the line.

Asked to bat first on a damp wicket following the heavy rains which washed out much of the league programme 24 hours previously, Calmore were rocked when the prolific Ben Johns was strangled down the leg side to the first ball he faced and he was quickly followed by Lavelle – run out by a direct hit from Archie Dunn – and Matt Taylor, who lobbed a simple catch to the same fielder off a Rob Pike delivery which looked to stop in the pitch.

It left us tottering at 26-3 in the seventh over and the home side buzzing.

Initially circumspect, Johnson set about his work, rotating the strike alongside keeper Max Bailey as they tried to repair the early damage but the latter fell to a well taken caught and bowled by Josh Metcalfe and the ‘More reached the half-way stage at 68-4 and looking for a partnership to bolster the total.

And they found it as Johnson was joined by the evergreen James Rose.  They firmly quietened the home side, tucking into the bowling with a superb stand of 123 as the duo clubbed three sixes each, taking a liking to the left-arm spin of Andrew Denney in the main but also being brutal in their attack of the others.

Johnson finally fell for 79 from 87 balls, showing class in his shot selection and plentiful power.  But he had the perfect partner in Rose, who rolled back the years with an excellent unbeaten 65 from 81 balls, containing three fours and three sixes, which pushed the total up to an unlikely 190-6 from our 40 overs – a total which was considered to be 30 or more over the ‘par’ on the tricky surface.

Pike (2-27) and Chris Dunn (2-31) were the pick of the Paultons bowlers although Metcalfe returned figures of 1-18 from his eight, proving difficult to get away.

However, Calmore have a master in that department and that is Steve Wright and once again he would prove it by bowling his eight overs straight at the top of the Paultons reply, claiming figures of 8-4-6-0 as the hosts crawled to 32-2 in the 16th over when Lee Wateridge was removed by Ben Perry – turning their 4.77 required rate into 6.70 nearing the mid point of the innings.

What followed was a display of pure brute strength and power from Nathan Feltham.  The strong left-hander cracked Mike West for a six and a four in consecutive balls and they were just one run behind the comparison score at the 20-over drinks break.

He would continue his assault, blitzing Perry for three maximums and West for two more as he raced to 78 with just four fours but seven huge strikes into the trees and beyond.  But while he was finding the going easy, Jacob Lee was a mere spectator in the 81-run stand before his 58 ball vigil for 14 was ended by Johnson getting through his defences.

The key wicket, which effectively changed the game, came with Paultons needing just 42 more to win from 51 balls.  The wicket was the end of Feltham’s fireworks.  As the rain began to fall heavily, he was finally beaten for pace by Johnson, ending his 67-ball stay and when Pike edged behind to Bailey first ball, Calmore moved fractionally ahead.

Former Calmore player and Paultons captain Simon Ennew was trapped leg before to give Johnson a fourth and Metcalfe was run out by Bailey’s direct hit to reduce the home side to 166-7.  However, veteran Peter Lamb and Archie Dunn nudged and nurdled their way to a partnership of 19 as the rain continued to make life difficult for all.  Needing 15 off the last two overs, they took Lavelle’s final over for six – leaving the skipper with respectable figures of 1-26 in his eight.

Nine to win off the last.  A Matt Taylor run out ended Lamb’s resistance, Archie Dunn threw everything at the next delivery but only gave a return skier to Johnson to complete his five-for and when Chris Dunn was run out to see Calmore win the game with a team hat-trick, they were able to release a huge sigh of relief in completing the nerve-jangling four run win – Johnson closing with 5-34 from 7.5 overs – the first Calmore 1st XI player to score a 50 and take five wickets in a competitive game since Clive Surry in 2002, a player synonymous with this very competition in 1992 with Hursley Park …. an omen?!

A superb game of cricket, in often trying conditions, between two big local rivals.  A credit to both sides to see the game out to its full conclusion but it was Calmore Sports who booked their place in round three and a home game with Sarisbury Athletic on Sunday 23 May.

Having vanquished Langley Manor – by a walkover – in round one and Paultons in round two, does that make Calmore Sports the village kings of the Totton district?

Scorecard from the game: https://calmore.play-cricket.com/website/results/4892712
Match action pictures: