STRATFORD-UPON-AVON’S Warwickshire League Premier Division title hopes appear to be dead in the water – barring a shock result in Saturday’s finale – despite edging Streetly by nine runs last time out.
The second-placed Panthers went into the encounter knowing that nothing less than a victory would result in the title race being taken to the final day, doing just that when successfully defending their 160 score.
But with leaders Walmley claiming a winning draw against Solihull Municipal – who Stratford face next – it now appears unlikely that the title will be heading to Swans Nest Lane, unless relegation-threatened Sutton Coldfield can cause an upset and help change the current 20-point difference between the two sides.
Stratford never really got going in last weekend’s encounter with the bat in hand and relied a lot of their hopes on number five Nick Pepper (67) to bolster their standing in the game.
A partnership of 38 runs was the best that any of the hosts’ batsmen could muster, with Pepper combining with Josh Colwell (21) to take the Panthers to 82-5.
Remaining under constant threat from Streetly’s Steve Hinton (4-46) and Waqar Dad (3-30), Stratford’s innings was promptly ended in the 45th over.
And while the visitors fared better as far as high-scoring partnerships were concerned – Akbar Ahmed (46) and Craig Moore (33) combining for 60 runs – the lack of firepower in the rest of Streetly’s batting line-up eventually proved costly.
With Nathan Myers and James Urquhart (both 2-19) and teammates Archie Walker (2-35) and Colwell (2-39) sharing out the wickets between them, Stratford reinforced their position and looked set to ensure a tight finish.
And so it proved, with Dexter Purser’s sole dismissal removed tailender Dad (8) with the penultimate ball of the 52nd over.
FOR PERSHORE, it will be a case of fighting for second place in the Worcestershire League Premier Division.
A comprehensive eight-wicket win at Bewdley saw the Plums dismiss the hosts for just 84 runs, before requiring only 18 overs to confirm victory.
Darren Critcher (4-54) was the star of the show for Pershore with the ball in hand, with Paddy Thompson (3-14) and Stephen Miles (2-0) also earning honourable mentions on away soil – the latter taking back-to-back dismissals to end Bewdley’s challenge.
Christopher Ridings (38, no) and Liam Ridings (11, no) then saw the job through after Thompson (27) and Imran Wahid (9) laid the foundation.
On Saturday, third-placed Pershore host Old Hill, tenth, hoping to make up the 14-point difference to Stourport-on-Severn in second.