A magnificent unbeaten century by David Proffitt steered Ashcombe Park to an outstanding three-wicket win at Barlaston. Ashcombe's second victory in succession – and their third in the last four outings – came after five wickets for Rizwan Haider and three for Jake Johnson helped dismiss the hosts for 200.
Proffitt, in early at 27-3, as Ashcombe's run-chase looked destined for disappointment – with Ryan Ball, Rob Drummond and Rizwan Haider all out – shared a 76-run partnership with opener Nick Goodwin for the fourth wicket.
Goodwin's long, patient and determined innings of 34 was eventually ended by a thin edge to keeper Jon Taylor at 103-4 off pace-bowler Zafar Iqbal – collecting his third wicket before ending with 3 -41.
Proffitt fought on, sharing further effective partnerships with skipper Ian Alcock (13), Chris Bradstreet (6) and Josh Johnson (16). Each falling wicket gave Ashcombe supporters palpitations and renewed hope to the home side.
But Proffitt calmly continued, passing 50 off 65 balls and eventually reaching three-figures after just under three hours of relentless pressure and concentration spanning 138 deliveries.
Proffitt, who ended with 105 not out, with sixteen fours and a six, gave just one chance, on 70, when a low, firm clip to mid-wicket was fumbled and spilled.
Finally, joined by Nathan Ball at 186-7, after Johnson was bowled by Mark Stanyer, the pair saw Ashcombe to a wonderful win with Ball (6 no) lofting a delivery from Stanyer to the long-off boundary. It was hard on Barlaston skipper Stanyer after a remarkable start to his spell, so accurate that he conceded just three singles in his first eight overs, with Ashcombe consequently having to get what runs they could from one end only. Stanyer eventually signed off with 36 off 17.4 overs, including 85 dot balls and almost as many appeals in vain to the umpire.
Earlier in the afternoon the match fortunes changed hands three times during Barlaston's innings.
Asked to bat first, the home side's openers Brian Sims (28) and Shaun Jenkinson (25), put 51 together, looking in little difficulty until Haider trimmed the bails off Jenkinson's stumps.
Next ball Jack Davies lost his off stump to Haider and Barlaston collapsed to 78-7, effectively losing seven wickets for 27 runs.
Haider claimed four victims and Jake Johnson three.
Iqbal was joined by Jon Taylor and slowly Barlaston turned the game around.
Taylor scored 30 in a partnership of 61, helping the total to 139-8 before Chris Bradstreet (1 -31) slid a ball through Taylor to bowl him.
But Chris Dyer (33) shared a further stand of 59 with Iqbal as Ashcombe's hopes of keeping the total in check were scuppered.
Haider (5-46), back in to the attack, claimed his fifth wicket almost immediately as Dyer was caught behind by keeper Ryan Ball at 198-9 with Ball closing the home side's innings two runs later – and Iqbal's battling knock of 43 – with an acrobatic catch off brother Nathan's bowling.