Express & Star

Cooper’s century keeps up Fordhouses’ charge at top

Opener Niall Cooper struck his first century of the season as Fordhouses maintained their relentless pace at the top of the South Staffordshire County League.


Cooper’s unbeaten 104, from just 101 balls, ensured his team cruised to their 11th victory in 12 Premier Division matches as they beat bottom club Aldridge by eight wickets.

Muhammad Imran had earlier taken 5-33 to restrict Aldridge to 192-9 from 43 overs, Luan Painter hitting an unbeaten 38 as the visitors recovered from 109-7 to at least post a respectable score.

Given 38 overs to chase down the target, following a rain delay, Cooper’s knock meant Fordhouses managed it with room to spare.

Fellow opener Mubeen Rashid also hit a run-a-ball 76 in a first-wicket stand of 171 before Aldridge claimed some consolation with two late wickets, Imran unable to follow his excellent spell with the ball after being dismissed off the bowling of Painter for just five.

Fordhouses’ win maintained their 39-point cushion at the summit, though closest challengers Milford Hall and Wombourne are at least keeping the leaders honest as both claimed wins to ensure the gap at the top got no larger.

Milford recorded a resounding 160-run victory away at Tamworth seconds thanks to an impressive team display with bat and ball.

Ibbadat Thaman, who top scored with an unbeaten 68, was one of five players to pass 40 as the visitors raced to 302-5 before declaring after 43 overs.

Aaron Afford then took 5-33 as Tamworth’s twos were skittled for just 142 in little more than 40 overs.

Wombourne were similarly dominant en route to a 138-run win at struggling Lichfield.

Todd Henderson cracked an unbeaten 109 from just 96 balls, while skipper Zac Smith struck 89 as the visitors declared on 272-4 when rain arrived 44 overs into their innings.

Set a revised target of 253 from 48 overs, Lichfield never looked like getting close, Ben Hudson and Oli Siviter taking three wickets each as the hosts were bowled out for 114.

Lichfield were not the only relegation-threatened team to endure a tough weekend. Cannock, who sit one place above them in the table, endured a bruising 83-run loss at Beacon.

A decent bowling effort, which saw the hosts dismissed for just 171, appeared to give them hope at the halfway stage.

But Josh Chesworth then ripped through the Cannock top order at the start of the chase, claiming four wickets to leave the visitors 27-5. Dan Green then claimed four wickets of his own to mop up the tail as Cannock were eventually all out for 88.

Beacon remain one point behind fourth-placed Penkridge in the table, after the latter beat Hammerwich by 24 runs in the closest finish of the day.

Craig Jennings took 5-33 as Penkridge were bowled out for 165 but then top scored in the chase, with only 23, as the visitors fell short on 141. Will Marsh took four wickets for Penkridge, with Will James claiming three.

Two players hit centuries as Walsall edged a little further away from danger with a winning draw at Pelsall.

Opener Hashim Iqbal top scored with 109 and William Mashinge struck a classy, unbeaten 102 as Walsall raced to 325-3 from 47 overs.

Pelsall opener Tom Boyd then fell to the first ball of the reply but the hosts dug in to reach 195-5.