Francis and Selfe rescue match for Town as Smith takes ninefer
Slumped at 62-6, Antony Francis and Lee Selfe, batting at seven and eight, put on a match-saving 173 partnership to put Town’s promotion aspirations back on the table.
And the pair chipped in with wickets too to ensure the 21 run victory, lifting them back to third in Cherwell Division 2.
But for the duo’s partnership, it would have been a completely different tale for Town.
With both openers James Raine and Tom Light out for two each, and Gareth Benger going for a duck, Leighton looked in trouble from the off.
And despite having scored more than 300 runs in his last three innings, Phil Whatmore was also quickly back in the pavilion for just 11 at Leighton rocked.
It wasn’t until Francis and Selfe were at the crease together though that things began to go in the away side’s direction.
Both scored quickly, with Francis’ 88 coming from 109 balls, while Selfe’s 77 came off just 91 as Leighton went from 62-6 to 235-7.
Thomas Goffe, the destroyer of the top order, would go on to remove both on his way to 6-38, but the pair had done the damage and put Leighton on course as they were all out for 242.
Midtable Sandford didn’t have as many highlights in their order. Opener Steve Dobson top-scored with 42, but with each batsman making a decent fist of it before losing their wicket, the finale threatened to be a close one.
Wickets fell regularly for Sandford though. Francis took two top order wickets, with Selfe also taking one, but it was left to opening bowler Tom Pope to return for a closing spell, taking out the tale on his way to 2-45 to bowl out the home side for 221.
The result sees Town move within five points of top spot, and just a point off the second automatic promotion spot.
Next Saturday, Tom Light’s side are back at Bell Close to host fifth placed Didcot, who lost to Buckingham Town at the weekend.
Brilliant batting from Rhiaan Krynauw (89) and Richard Raine (57) saw Leighton pile on the runs, eventually declaring on 266-5 , with Mark Burfoot also chipping in with a strong 42.
But with the ball in hand, Smith, who contributed 14 not out to the scoreboard, would prove unplayable for the visiting side.
After watching the opening bowlers toil without much luck, Smith took a remarkable nine wickets for just 37.
Only Bertie Barrett (1-31) prevented Smith from taking the lot.
The result sees the 2nds move up the table to fourth, just 18 points adrift of the second automatic promotion spot, currently occupied by Cumnor 2nds.
Next week, the 2nds take on Didcot 2nds away.