GREAT Brickhill are still on for what would be a quite remarkable fourth Cherwell League promotion in as many years.
The villagers have enjoyed an extraordinary rise to their current Division Two heights over the past three seasons, and despite now having to get used to not winning week-in-week-out, Brickhill remain one of the League’s most feared sides.
Despite a particularly hard to take five wicket loss to Division Two table toppers Tiddington last month, Brickhill continue to prove their title credentials and made the rest of the league sit up and take notice as they comfortably beat Long Marston who went into their meeting a fortnight ago top of the pile.
That five wicket success was made all the more impressive given Brickhill’s recent National Village Cup distractions. That campaign eventually ended with an agonising four run defeat to Mistley in the fifth round of the competition, but they quickly put that disappointment behind them to humble Long Marston who lost their place at the top of the table as a result, opening the door to Tiddington.
The Oxfordshire outfit are now the team to beat, but Brickhill have them in their sights. However, the villagers will have been disappointed not to take the maximum 25 points from Saturday’s meeting with struggling Sandford St Martin. Brickhill made 251-9 but the visitors held on to earn a share of the spoils on 170-8.
Whether a handful of dropped points costs them in the long run remains to be seen, but with a return fixture at Tiddington to come, Brickhill will feel they have their destiny in their own hands. Not that they should feel the pressure of needing to seal another promotion.
Just three years ago Brickhill were enjoying their debut season in the Cherwell League, and Division Five didn’t keep them for long as they cruised to an unbeaten season and top finish. They then made it back-to-back promotions by winning Division Four and continued that incredible undefeated record.
By the time they finally tasted defeat to Bledlow Village in 2010, Brickhill were on for a hat-trick of promotions as they successfully escaped Division Three at the first attempt. Ironically Brickhill got revenge for that defeat to Bledlow Village as they knocked them out of the Buckinghamshire final of the National Village Cup before losing to Mistley.
But that cup defeat is now a distant memory and Brickhill can again focus on their ultimate target of earning a place in the Cherwell League top tier.
Bletchley Town put a poor couple of weeks behind them by securing a crucial five wicket win over bottom team Bourton Vale, increasing the distance between themselves and the two sides below them.
Their third success of the season came after excellent performances from the enigmatic paceman Mark Roberts and another spell-binding display from young Ricardo Brown who destroyed Vale’s batting order.
Brown ended with figures of 4-18 and Roberts 3-30 as Bourton were restricted to a mere 103. That total was never likely to be good enough for the hosts, although Bletchley’s win wasn’t as straight forward as it might have been as they got home on 104-5.
Wolverton Town’s record so far this year now has an appropriately symmetrical feel to it after they lost to high-flying Abingdon Vale. Wolves made 108-9 and the hosts wasted little time in cruising to victory with 112-2.
Wolverton Town 2nds (156) beat Long Marston 2nds (137) by 19 runs and Bletchley Town 2nds (98-5) saw off Bledlow Ridge 2nds (97) by two wickets.
There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground for Stony this season who fell to a fourth defeat against third placed Brixworth. Stony were dismissed for 203-9 and the hosts sealed a nine wicket win on 207-1.
Four Counties League
North Crawley have proved they are human after slipping up for the first time this season against title rivals New Bradwell, also allowing Milton Keynes City to close the gap.
It might turn out to be a turning point in the season as New Bradwell sealed a winning draw to prove their own championship credentials and turn it into a three horse race at the top. Teemoor Alam hit an excellent 118 as Bradwell set a target of 241, but despite the efforts of Nadeem Aftab (3-26) Crawley managed an impressive 203-6 in reply, earning them a share of the spoils.
MK City took advantage to close the gap on the leaders as they saw off Milton Keynes by three wickets to realistically rule them out of title contention. MK reached 219-9 after being put in to bat with Sam Hagger (57) the top scorer. But that wasn’t enough as Chris Timms smashed a marvellous 111 to lead City to victory on 222-7.
Newport Pagnell jumped a couple of places near the bottom after they recorded a convincing 93 run victory over Biddenham. The visitors made just 157 in reply to Newport’s target of 250-9 – Lewis Hefferon hitting 80 of them as they go above Olney who were without a game.
Old Bradwell were winners in the battle of the bottom of two, leaving Shenley Church End still looking for their first win of the season and cut adrift at the foot of the table.
Shenley were ousted for just 150, although Lal Patel (51) did his best to improve that, while Jason Hardy claimed a match changing 4-32 to leave Bradwell in control. And they didn’t hang around for long in reply as Ben Mills remained unbeaten on 58 to guide Bradwell to a deserved seven wicket success.
New City (164-6) are doing their best to catch the leaders and beat Milton Bryan (161) by four wickets, keeping them in second place.
Open University (221-8) lost their place at the top of the table after a losing draw to North Crawley 2nds (235-8) and Willen were one of the sides to take advantage.
Ollie Harrison was 55 not out as Willen (94-3) sealed a great seven wicket win over Stewkley Vicarage (93) and although they stay fourth in the pile, there aren’t many points in it. Elsewhere, New Bradwell 2nds (123) lost to Wilden (126-8) by two wickets while Stoke Hammond (86) went down to new leaders Thurleigh (229-4) by 143 runs.
Milton Keynes 2nds (42) lost out to relegation rivals Drayton Parslow (43-0) in humiliating fashion thanks to a remarkable bowling spell from Andy Willis who took eight wickets for just eight runs.
Ian Hand top scored on a mere 13 for MK before their bowlers failed to trouble Parslow’s openers who took their time in hitting the runs needed to secure a 10 wicket victory.
The one bit of good news for MK is that Newport Pagnell 2nds (130) are in equally poor form and fell to Whitchurch (136-4) by six wickets, while Printers (139) saw off leaders Bromham (132) by seven runs.
Stony Stratford (160-8) were the big winners as they beat New City 2nds (159) by two wickets to move above them in the table, closing the gap on the leaders who didn’t play.
Elsewhere, Wolverton Town 2nds (85) were humbled by bottom side Winslow (89-6) by four wickets and Old Bradwell 2nds (187-4) got the better of Milton Bryan 2nds (184-4) in a six wicket victory.
Bletchley Town (178-6) secured a much needed win over Caddington 2nds (124) by 54 runs to edge away from the foot of the table – Richard Fletcher their top scorer on 41 and Jamie Galvin returned 5-34.
Great Brickhill (187-6) suffered a losing draw to Buckland and Aston Clinton 2nds (212).