Huntly bounced back to form at home to local derby rivals Aberdeenshire, removing the Mannofield men from the top position in the North East Championship.
The Castle Park side were worthy winners, the four wicket margin of victory flattering the visitors, who were dismissed for 136 and at 88 for no wicket. The home side looked set for to register a more comprehensive win, only to lose a flurry of wickets late on in the game as they closed in on victory.
Huntly captain Jack Mitchell was delighted with the outcome and said: “After the disappointment of the defeats at Kinloch in the league and Leith in the CS Challenge Cup, it was great to break our duck.
“The only disappointment was in losing six wickets when victory was in sight.
“We’ll now build on this. I was particularly pleased with the standard of our catching, especially the caught and bowled effort of Jordan Squire when he dismissed Joe Horne.”
Mitchell contributed 21 when his side batted, but also picked up a nasty wrist injury when his batting partner Liam Ferguson hit him with a full blooded drive.
But the batting heroics of the day came from Huntly opener Callum Whyte, who hit a brisk 56, including four sixes and three fours, to take the game away from Shire.
Shire captain Kenny Reid conceded they had come out second best in the contest.
He said: “Defending our low total of 136 was always going to be hard.
“They came at us hard, especially Whyte.
“We kept the pressure on right to the end, but it was our batting which let us down on a pitch with variable bounce.”
Dropped catches did not help the visitors, including Reid putting Whyte down twice before making amends, taking a sharp chance to finally dismiss the belligerent opener.
Andrew Petrie was the pick of the home bowling, taking three for 15.
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Elsewhere, Gordonians kept up their title push on track at St Andrews where they overwhelmed Kinloch, racking up 314 for four before dismissing the hosts for 96.
Countesswells captain Mayank Bandari was delighted with the win, which gives them joint-top place with Falkland and Freuchie.
“It was a pleasing win. Abrar Ahmed’s 109 was beautifully crafted. We are in a good place,” he said.
In the same division Stoneywood-Dyce seconds failed to hunt down Strathmore’s 272, falling 120 short on 152 all out at the Peoples Park.
Scottish Cup success for Shire
Aberdeenshire took only 24 hours to put their league defeat at Huntly behind them, with a 94-run win at Gala in the Scottish Cup to earn a home tie against Drumpellier.
Shire captain Kenny Reid led the way with a magnificent knock of 126 to help his side to reach a total of 302 all out from 46.2 overs.
Gala made a brave fist of trying to overhaul the mammoth total set by Shire, but eventually succumbed to 208 all out. Lewis Munro was the pick of the visiting attack, returning three wickets for 13 runs.
Reid said: “It was important that we put the Huntly defeat out of our minds as quickly as possible. The win was good for morale. We can now look forward to a home tie.”
Mahajan hits century for in-form Cults
In the NE Grades, Cults underlined their title credentials at Kellands Park, where they held off the challenge of Inverurie in a thrilling encounter.
The Allan Park side scored 216 for six, of which Ravi Mahajan stroked a superb 122. The home side came up 12 runs shot on 204 all out.
Aberdeen Grammar kept up their title push and with Cults are the only clubs with 100% records in the top division after their comprehensive eight-wicket win over Master Blasters Aberdeen, who were bowled out for 81.
Bon Accord registered a first win of the season, easing home by two runs against Grampian, who fell agonisingly short on 175 chasing the Bons total of 177.
Tauqeer Malik starred for the winners, taking four for 10, while prolific run-scorer Fazal Awan added 72 to his ever-growing total for Bon Accord.
Knight Riders beat Crescent by six wickets, while Gordonians opened their account with a 82-run win over Siyapa.