O’Toole returns to lead St Albans to victory after three years away from the team

St Albans' Michael Grossett partnered Richard O'Toole in the all-important winning partnership again

St Albans' Michael Grossett partnered Richard O'Toole in the all-important winning partnership against Preston. Picture: MELISSA PAGE - Credit: Archant

Richard O’Toole marked his return to first team action after a three-year absence with a match-winning knock against Preston at Clarence Park.

The St Albans man was recalled after an injury to Mbeks Mabuza and his unbeaten 37 in a partnership of 49 with Michael Grossett was enough to secure the two-wicket victory in the low-scoring game.

The precursor to that was an all too familiar batting collapse which saw the top four out for 29 and four later wickets fall for 21 after a fightback by Max Capaldi and Matt Howeson.

They added 49 for the fifth wicket in 14 overs before Capaldi was run out and Howeson bowled for 29.

At 99-8 O’Toole and Grossett batted in different styles; the former the aggressor with the latter more cautious in seeing off the two slow bowlers who caused most of the earlier problems.

Preston had earlier looked set for a score close to 200 on dry pitch. But at 66-1 Simon White (4-24)removed the middle order.

Tom O’Toole also picked up a maiden first-team wicket.

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A trip to league leaders Bishop’s Stortford 2nds awaits this Saturday.

The 2nds also had a two-wicket victory over their Preston counterparts.

Four wickets from James Dempsey and three from Amit Rajani saw Preston finish on 212 after 53 overs.

A great knock of 53 from Michael Goodfellow, with some good hitting and a huge six, helped push Saints on in reply but they still needed 45 runs from seven overs witht only 2 wickets in hand.

Fortunately some great hitting from Joe Button and saw the side home.

The 4ths added another win, beating Northwood 3rds by 14 runs.

A season double over Northwood Town 3XI saw St Albans halt a disappointing run of recent losses with a fine win on Saturday.

South African powerhouse Michael Martin top scored for St Albans with 73 and they got across the line in the 40th over.

However, the 3rd team couldn’t make it a clean-sweep of wins as they were held to a draw by Flitwick 3rds.

It was another stellar performance from the team with 83 from Richard Baylis and 5-23 from Adam Murphy the stand-out scores.