DAN MARLES is confident Finchampstead can continue their charge up the Home Counties Premier League table after a thrilling victory at High Wycombe.
In a battle of the two most recent Home Counties champions, Finch looked well-placed to wrap up a convincing win in Buckinghamshire.
Jandre Coetzee (3-51) and JJ Dewes (3-55) led the bowling to dismiss the hosts for 229.
And it looked to be a mere formality at 134-1 in reply, only for Marles (34) and Andrew House (95) to lose their wickets and spark a batting collapse.
From 134-1, Finches found themselves flailing on 196-8 before a crucial and patient final-wicket stand from Craig Hodges (21) and JJ Dewes (5) saw the win over the line.
“It was a nervy win, but an excellent one for us,” Marles told The Wokingham Paper.
“Saturday epitomises how we can play a game of cricket as a side. We can be so good but so naive and inexperienced in the same day really.
“We were excellent to keep them under 250 on a pretty good track with a lightning outfield against some really top class batters.
“Then 134-1 chasing it, everything going to plan and then obviously a bit of a collapse and then to win the game.”
And Marles was keen to heap praise on Hodges for his knock of 21 off 49 balls.
He added: “Myself and (Andy) House put on another hundred stand. We’ve batted really well together but we both gave it away at completely the wrong times.
“We’re both experienced batters that should do better than that, not give it away and give them a bit of hope.
“I thought Craig (Hodges) was absolutely fantastic. Everything was going against him but he fought through it with some really brave and really top class batting actually for a number 10.
“It was really impressive.”
The win lifts Finch up to second, 16 points off leaders Henley at the halfway mark, and extends their unbeaten run to six matches.
And Marles believes this latest success is more significant than just another win to add to the tally.
“A lot of sides and maybe us in years gone by would’ve folded on Saturday, been rolled for 180 and lost the game,” said the captain.
“But that fight and desire we’ve got keeps winning us games of cricket that we probably shouldn’t win, which puts us in good stead.
“It was just massive to get over the line on Saturday. It means more than just the points, it’s great for the team spirit.
“We go training again this week and we’re still unbeaten for the last six games so we’re all up.”
He continued: “The first few weeks of the season were really, really hard for a number of reasons – suspensions, bans, injuries and obviously losing games.
“But it’s all starting to click now.
“The bans are behind us and we want to move on pretty quickly as a club from that. We’ve got a few injuries but all the batsmen seem to be in form and the bowlers were excellent at the weekend.
“We’ve got three winnable games coming up now, starting with Oxford on Saturday.
“We’re really looking forward to them and hopefully we can really start to apply some pressure on Henley now.”
Finches make just one change from the side which beat High Wycombe as Josh Lincoln replaces Billy Rogers. Ed Oliver continues to deputise for the injured Greg Smith.
FINCHAMPSTEAD XI v Oxford: Marles (c), D. Lincoln (wk), Carter, Coetzee, J. Dewes, A. Dewes, House, Hodges, Oliver, Parson, J. Lincoln.