WOOTTON Bassett captain Darren Beasant was happy his side enjoyed the perfect preparation to this weekend’s top-of-the-table showdown with Malmesbury, as they edged out Bradford-on-Avon by six wickets.

Bassett were made to work hard for their 21 points at Ryland’s Way, as Bradford’s stiff resistance took the visitors to 185-8 from their 45 overs, before an unbeaten half-century from Beasant helped his team home with 14 balls to spare.

It was a stern examination of Beasant and his players and one he was delighted to emerge through with a respectable points haul.

He said: “We were pleased with it. We were put under some pressure. We were probably put under more pressure this weekend than we have been for some weeks.

“It was a positive in that it was nice to be tested with a big game coming up, for some of the guys to get time in the middle, get a few runs and take wickets. We’re doing it by default at the minute - putting teams in and chasing them down.

“Bowling them out for 75 and chasing down for nought or one would have been great in one way but this was good too. Pretty much the entire top six got a good bat and I think we used six bowlers so it’s far better preparation for next week.

“We can’t win it on Saturday but we can certainly lose it and in that respect it was a good test, you play sport because you want to be competitive.”

Malmesbury now lead Bassett by 10 points with the race for the title starting to heat up, and Saturday’s meeting between the two teams has taken on even greater significance.

Beasant knows his bowlers will have to be disciplined for the fixture, saying of the Ryland’s Way pitch: “It’s been an absolute motorway for a few weeks, you have to do well with the ball on it and we’ll need to do that in weeks to come.”