STRATFORD-UPON-AVON’S batting collapse in a 109-run defeat to Moseley Ashfield reflected their loosening grip on their Warwickshire League Premier Division title challenge last weekend.
The Panthers have now slipped to back-to-back defeats, meaning that they now sit 27 points behind leaders Walmley, and may yet even be under threat of surrendering second-place to Coventry & North Warwickshire in close pursuit.
This defeat would no doubt have hurt skipper Dexter Purser and Co., considering how the visitors were dismissed at too late a stage in the innings, while the response from the hosts at the crease failed to come close to the levels that they have demonstrated throughout the campaign.
The duo of Oliver Thomas (79) and John Pemberton (40) at number four and five respectively had a major impact on Moseley’s run rate after openers Hayden Evans (28) and Warwick Paull (31) had laid a foundation, with a fourth-wicket partnership of 76 runs kicking the visitors into gear.
For Purser – picking up four wickets for 12 runs conceded – and Josh Colwell – who took three dismissals while giving up 47 runs – there was just too much firepower in the Ashfield ranks to deal with, despite the impressive bowling contributions of the Stratford duo.
In reply, the Panthers were unable to hit the right chords and could only top-score through Nick Pepper (33) at number three, on an afternoon when Sultan Afsal (5-20) and Iltaf Rehman (3-35) delivered the goods for Moseley.
Successive victories to end the season will now be required by Stratford to stand any chance of lifting the league title, starting with Saturday’s home encounter with tenth-placed Streetly.