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Watford Town A comfortably beat Leverstock Green in Watford Observer Fourteen14 Shield final
They’ve waited 21 years but Watford Town can at last celebrate a Watford Observer Shield triumph again after they eased to an eight-wicket victory over debut finalists Leverstock Green at Chipperfield Clarendon tonight.
The win, wrapped up with more than five of the 14, eight-ball overs to spare, gave the competition’s most successful club a tenth victory in the event, taking them three clear of West Herts in the all-time standings following the Woodside club’s first appearance in a final since 2003.
While an impressive bowling performance set up the victory, restricting Green to just 77 for nine after they had won the toss and opted to bat first, it was Mo Manzoor who was named man-of-the-match and became the first recipient of the David Webb Memorial Cup.
Named after the Watford Observer Fourteen14 competitions’ long-standing umpire co-ordinator who died at the end of last year, the trophy was donated by Chipperfield Clarendon chairman Graeme Gregory and his son Warren to recognise their club’s honorary life-president.
David’s wife Pam presented the trophy to the Town opener after he cracked an excellent 54 not out off 34 deliveries, although it was Tahir Afridi who scored the winning runs with a four off the fourth ball of the ninth over.
Afridi though, can look back on a devastating over that set his side on the road to the victory.
The opening bowler conceded seven off the first over of the match but in tandem with Usman Ali (nought for 13 off three overs), the pair impressively kept the pressure on Green openers David Coulshed and Alex King to restrict them to 19 without loss after five overs.
Leverstock threatened to up the rate in the sixth over as Klosterman scored the first boundary of the match to help take the total up to 30 for nought, but Green were firmly on the back foot after the next eight deliveries.
Green felt hard done by with the manner in which King (15) was caught by Stuart Knox off the second delivery of Afridi’s final permitted over as they were convinced a no ball should have been called. But there was no argument with the next delivery as Afridi sent new batsman Kris Jadeja’s stumps flying.
Klosterman saw off the hat-trick ball but three deliveries later Coulshed (13) was on his way back to the pavilion after also being clean bowled to make it three wickets in six deliveries for Afridi (three for 16 off four) to leave Green languishing on 32 for three. It was a position they never recovered from.
Klosterman was the next batsman to see the bails fall in the next over as Imran Shah (two for 11 off two) struck and by the first delivery of the 11th, Green’s predicament was looking increasingly bleak as Tauseef Kazmi (two for 17 off three) reduced them to 50 for six.
While no more boundaries were forthcoming, Luke Roberts (nine) and Imran Iqbal (11) at least managed to get the scoreboard ticking over with ones and twos.
But both were to depart before the end of the innings as Cookie Latif (two for 16 off two) struck twice in the final over to leave his side in a very strong position.
Green needed early wickets if they were to have any chance of pulling off a sensational result and their hopes were briefly raised when Naseer Ahmed (three) was caught by Coulshed off the bowling of Klosterman (one for 24 off four) of the first ball of the third over to leave Watford on 13 for one.
Sadly though, Green skipper Coulshed’s match was to end five balls later when he landed awkwardly fielding a ball and was later taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder.
Watford could have settled for knocking off the runs in singles or twos but Manzoor did let loose on occasions, including hitting the first of his two sixes off the first ball of the fifth over.
Andy Felton’s side reached 50 in the seventh over – almost three overs quicker than their opponents – but the game was over by the eighth when Imran Iqbal saw his sole over disappear for 25 when Manzoor saw another maximum land on the roof of a car before another delivery went for eight wides.
Green at least had the minor consolation of one more wicket when Roberts (one for five off 0.4 overs) bowled Kazmi (11) but it was their opponents who were soon to be celebrating their first victory in the competition since 1991.