REDDITCH Entaco’s season-long Worcestershire League Premier Division title challenge is as good as over after a three-wicket defeat at leaders Stourbridge on Saturday.
The Kingfishers have either occupied or had top spot in their sights throughout the campaign but, despite valiant efforts, inconsistency in the second half of the season has surely left Russell Southwick’s side with too much to do in the final two matches.
Fourth-placed Redditch are now 28 points behind Stourbridge who face second-placed Astwood Bank on the final day, whilst Chaddesley Corbett are also above the Kingfishers in third.
Redditch, who host Worcester on Saturday, won the toss at Amblecote but lost an early wicket as Chris Brown was bowled for one, but an excellent 87 from skipper Southwick and 63 from Rizwan Mohammed put the visitors in a strong position for what would have been a huge victory in the race for top spot.
Haris Ali chipped in with 35 and 22 from Ghulam Moyhuddin took Redditch past 250, but Stourbridge bounced back with a cluster of wickets as Redditch were dismissed for 263 off their 50 overs. Jujhar Johal took 4-73 and Dan Wale 3-59.
In reply Stourbridge got off to a blistering start as Johal and Harshad Patel put on a superb partnership of 175.
Patel was the first to go for a fine 73, but Johal grew in confidence and soon notched a second century against the Kingfishers this season as Stourbridge took a firm grip.
Matt Bradley (15) and keeper Marvarick Perry (30) both scored quickly before they and Mohammed Jevaad Nazir all fell to Waqas Ali (3-63).
Despite a gutsy effort with late wickets though, the 127 made by Johal proved to be the difference as the home side won with eight balls to spare.
Redditch 2nds’ Division Three promotion hopes are all but over following a heavy home defeat against Rushwick.
Redditch were bowled out for 118 as Anis Suleman (26) top-scored against an attack led by Lewis Hooper’s 4-26. In reply Rushwick cruised to victory for the loss of just two wickets. Redditch visit Pershore on Saturday.
Tom Prescott’s 3rds need just two points to clinch promotion from Division Ten following a comprehensive home victory against Hanley Castle & Swan 2nds.
The visitors could only muster 102 from their 45 overs with Charles Robinson (38) and skipper Ian Hobbs (30) leading the way. Tom Prescott took 3-13, Tayyab Muhammed 2-14 and Numaan Suleman 2-7.
Openers James Prescott (55) and Harry Sharpe (32) wasted no time in scoring the required runs, taking just nine overs as Redditch won by ten wickets. A trip to Hallow 2nds completes the season this weekend.