KNIGHTON on Teme captain Rob James backed newcomers Cleobury to be a force in the Marches League just days after consigning them to a derby-day defeat.

James’s charges secured their first Division Two success of the campaign despite being restricted to 121, bowling out their neighbours for 103 in 23 overs at a damp Newnham Bridge.

Knighton openers Matthew James (19) and Richard Grosvenor (20) made a solid start with backing from top-scorer Jack Brain (35) and Rob James (28) before a flurry of single scores stifled their batting prowess.

However, Cleobury could not take advantage of the drying conditions with skipper Ed Kemp (27) and Michael Green (21) their only meaningful contributors as David Stroyd (5-27) and Brain (5-35) proved to be tormentors-in-chief with the ball.

“Cleobury have a good side. They bowled really well to keep us down to 121 and the spirit for a derby match was brilliant,” said James.

“They didn’t bowl any wides, made us play every ball and it was a really good game to be involved in. They have strength in depth with some good bowlers and the likes of James Manley, Ben Griifiths and Sam Evans very solid with the bat. I think they’ll be up there.

"We had a really good day against them with David and Jack taking the wickets they did but they will be back.

“It was a good toss to win, there had been a good 45 minutes of rain before the game and Cleobury put us in on a pretty damp wicket.

“A total of 121 would not usually be high enough in any game of cricket but we knew it would be a hard chase with conditions as they were and, on reflection, it was a decent score.

“The sun came out and dried it a bit, which normally would help the team going in to bat second but it provided that extra bit of zip and bounce which added to Cleobury’s challenge.”

But despite the joy of a big scalp, James accepts Knighton must keep their sights on more modest targets in 2017.

“We were well beaten by Ledbury, even though we got the losing draw. They got a big total and then we lost to Eastnor so it was important to get that win,” he added.

“The target for us would be to stay in Division Two. There are a lot of strong teams and we are punching above our weight being a small village.

“If we can pick up a few wins and climb the table, we would be really happy with that but first and foremost, our focus has to be on consolidation.

“It is all about availability, that’s the biggest pressure for any skipper but we have the capability with a full side to cause problems for anyone. There are one or two players in our ranks who can turn a game in the way Jack Brain did on Saturday.”