ARCHIE WALKER took a starring role as Stratford cut the gap to Birmingham League Third Division leaders Stourbridge following a winning draw against Rugby.
With Stourbridge’s match at Redditch washed out, second-placed Stratford followed a six-wicket haul from Walker with a hard-hitting batting display at Swans Nest Lane in a rain-reduced innings to take 15 points.
Tomorrow, the Panthers head to Pelsall, looking to keep up their challenge for the title.
Chris Whelan’s side, however, need to battle back against visitors Rugby last weekend.
Having won the toss and batted first, Rugby declared on 269-9 in 53 overs, thanks chiefly to Hugh Cochrane (87) and former Warwickshire skipper Michael Powell (78 not out).
Their fourth-wicket partnership, worth 72 runs, proved crucial after three wickets for Walker had left them 70-3.
Ed Benfield (36) also joined Powell to add 61 runs for the seventh wicket as fortunes ebbed and flowed.
But Walker kept plugging away and was rewarded with 6-87 from his 15 overs.
Stratford’s response was, eventually, reduced to 21 overs, and opener Dexter Purser led the way with 45.
But his departure was quickly followed by Whelan (23) to leave the hosts struggling at 98-5.
However, an undefeated 42 off 30 balls from Gareth Langman and 20 not out off 14 balls from Will Noble put on 66 for the sixth wicked and sealed a valuable winning draw.
Stourbridge’s match at Redditch was abandoned in the 31st over with the visitors on 140 for three, leaving the leaders with eight points.
Adam Joseph smashed an unbeaten century for Stratford Seconds but they had to settle for a losing draw at Rugby in their 2nd XI Second Division South fixture.
Batting first, Stratford reached 183-5 in their 50 overs, with Joseph hitting 102 not out, including 12 fours, and the opener getting support from James Harcourt (33) and Henry Hopkins (26).
But Rugby were 151-6 after 26 overs when play ended. Alex Smith top-scored with 41no while Tom Hatch and Lee Clarke took two wickets apiece.
The Seconds, who now occupy fourth place, entertain second-placed Kidderminster tomorrow.