A DEPLETED Dunstall side proved no match for title-chasing Sandiacre Town in the Derbyshire Premier League.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the visitors, even at full-strength, but missing key personnel meant Dunstall were always going to be up against it.
That they managed to bowl out their hosts and then hang on doggedly in reply to almost earn a draw, speaks volumes for the effort they put in.
Having won the toss and –chosen to bat, Sandiacre were restricted to 210-9 off their 50 overs.
Then, when victory seemed assured, Sandiacre showed some frustration as Dunstall crept to within six overs of escaping with a draw before finally finishing off their visitors.
Sandiacre started well, albeit carefully, against the part-time seam of Jamie Benstead and junior Charlie Bunting. Benstead soon showed that the pitch held a few demons, making one or two balls lift before he found Mitch McCann's edge in the 11th over, Sam Eaton holding the catch at slip.
That came in a tidy spell of 11 overs from the Dunstall stalwart before spin took over, as it has for much of the season for the Deer Park side.
Martin Clewley and Steve Brodrick settled into long spells and, gradually, they pegged Sandiacre back, aided by some splendid fielding, notably from teenager Callum Brodrick.
Oliver Swann never looked quite at ease and was leg before to Clewley but Rob Cook played some nice strokes and added 35 with James Chapman, who had settled himself for the long haul.
Sandiacre were 118-2 at 30 overs with an excellent base but Cook was bowled by Brodrick and Andy Rhodes was all at sea against Clewley, bowled by the third successive ball that turned past him.
Bill Anderson, standing in for Curtley Read as wicketkeeper-batsman, also struggled before Clewley bowled him, while Wheeldon was bowled by Steve Brodrick.
That was 144-6 and Sandiacre were suddenly in trouble but veteran former skipper John Trueman changed the picture with an invaluable 44 from 36 balls.
Chapman reached 72 from 126 balls without ever really timing the ball. He and Trueman were both out trying to force the pace against Clewley, who completed five wickets with their dismissals and added a sixth when Ryan McFadyean skied him to mid off.
It was a job well done by the visitors and a full-strength Dunstall would have fancied their chances. But they did not start well, Eaton departing leg before to Wheeldon in the first over.
Callum Brodrick's promising start ended with an edge to keeper Anderson off Wheeldon.
Benstead, in marvellous form this season, drove five splendid boundaries and had reached 41 out of 66 before he was leg before to John Jordison. With him went Dunstall's last hope.
Andy Malkin and Alec Mason were both bowled by Jordison and Jack Bailey edged Wheeldon behind to make them 76-6.
Wheeldon brought on Trueman, who ended Andy Noakes' 35-ball resistance through an edge to slip, before Josh Taylor ran himself out.
Even so, the overs were ticking by and when Bunting stuck around with Steve Brodrick, Sandiacre's frustration began to mount as Dunstall edged towards an unlikely draw.
Another Wheeldon bowling change did the trick, bringing himself back to find Bunting's edge.
Steve Brodrick had stayed 53 balls for his 15 but he, too, was bowled by Jordison with the first ball of the 45th over and Dunstall's brave resistance was finally ended.