The Four Counties season came to a close this weekend, with the final promotion and relegation battles decided on the final day.
Milton Keynes City and Newport Pagnell faced a nervous final day, with both facing the threat of relegation.
City travelled to take on Eaton Bray, who had secured their Division One safety a few weeks earlier.
Paul Harris (26) and James Flecknell (32) got Bray off to a good start, but a mini-collapse in the middle order left them struggling.
Darren Kerins (34) stabilised the ship somewhat, while skipper Wes Hosking added an unbeaten 24 to help guide his side to 192-7.
City, knowing that a win would ensure safety, got off to a great start though, with Imraz Siddiq and Neil Stewart making decent runs early on.
But James Flecknell (2-18) saw off both openers, sparking a collapse from the visiting side.
Zaheer Iqbal hit a valuable 58, but was running out of partners at the other end as Ian Jones (3-54) and Nick Pearson (4-10) made sure the victory was always going to be out of City’s reach.
They were eventually bowled out for 157, handing Bray a fine 35 run victory, leaving City with a nervous wait to hear whether Newport Pagnell had beaten Elstow.
In truth, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Newport, and they came up against a strong Elstow batting line-up.
Rani Thiarra (70) and Matt Sampson (60) put the wheels in motion for the visitors as they put on 251-8. Shaun Van Eaden (3-50) and James Mead (3-76) were the key wicket takers for the home side.
But with a mountainous task ahead of them, Newport folded under the pressure.
Stuart Robson took 6-17, while Sampson continued his fine form with 4-19 as Newport’s fate was sealed, bowled out for just 87 for a 164 run loss and relegation to Division Two.
Cranfield University’s relegation had already been confirmed, but they were heavily beaten by Thurleigh.
Centuries from Jody Arch (101 not out) and Edward Humphreys (107)saw the home side declare on 296-3, but Cranfield were skittled for just 90, losing by 206 runs.
Three wickets apiece from captain Richard Bryce (3-32)and Steve Sharpe (3-47) guided champions North Crawley to yet another win, this time over New City.
City were bowled out for 165, with Vishal Naik top scoring with 46.
In reply, Glenn Young scored 48 as North Crawley (166-5) saw off the total inside 40 overs to wrap up the five wicket win.
Milton Keynes missed out on second place with a final day defeat to Olney Town.
With several starts in the MK order, no-one went on to make a big total, and they were made to pay as they ended their innings on 176-9.
But despite Luke Anamourlis’ best efforts of 4-18, he couldn’t prevent Olney’s charge to victory.
Marcus Bates (50) and Paul Gallyot (41) got Olney off to a great start at the top of the order as they made it home with three overs to spare on 178-5.
It meant Elstow’s win over Newport Pagnell elevated them into second place, with MK finishing third.
Aspley Guise came within one point of promotion as they beat New Bradwell by 62 runs but will have to settle for Division Two cricket next season.
Ben Savage (50) and Chris Beales Jnr (53) both hit big runs for Aspley Guise as they ended their innings on 224-9. Joel Langley’s 4-42 was a highlight for New Bradwell.
But a stunning spell from Matthew Funge saw him take 6-31 to skittle New Bradwell’s top order. If it wasn’t for James McMillan’s unbeaten 78 for New Bradwell, things would have been much worse as they were eventually bowled out for 162.
A Greg Poulter century helped Old Bradwell to a winning draw against Milton Bryan. Poulter hit a magnificent 127, with Ross Poulter at the other end contributing 80 as Old Bradwell ended on 261-6.
A stubborn middle order partnership between Matt Pullan (53) and Peter Young (62) threatened to put Milton Bryan on the path to victory, but it wasn’t enough as they ended on 241-6. Daimon Kemp took 3-52.
North Crawley 2nds already had the Division Three title wrapped up, but it didn’t stop them hammering Stewkley Vicarage by nine wickets.
Stewkley, already relegated, were bowled out for 89, and it took less than eight overs for Joe Mitford (37 not out) and Sam Howe (43 not out) to knock off the winning runs (95-1).
Ivinghoe & Pitstone (87) were thrashed by Open University (88-2), but Shenley Church End (144) suffered relegation after losing to Tring Park 4ths (164) by 20 runs.
Printers (231-6 dec) wrapped up the Division 4 title with a crushing 137 run win over Milton Keynes 2nds (94).
Westcroft (257-9 dec) will join them in Division Three after their draw with Harlington (210-4).
New Bradwell 2nds (126) are relegated after losing by six wickets to New City 2nds (128-4).
Wing with Wingrave (111-6) pipped Great Brickhill 3rds (110) to the final Division Five promotion spot with their four wicket win, while MK City 2nds (113)lost to Whitchurch (14-5) by five wickets.
North Crawley 3rds (98) lost to Thurleigh (202-8) by just four runs.
Old Bradwell 2nds (151) were beaten by Division Six winners St Andrews (36-8).
In Division Seven, Simon Smithers hit 99 for Aspley Guise 2nds (228-4 dec) as they drew with Edlesborough (171-6) but Wolverton 3rds (125)went down by five wickets to Stoke Hammond 2nds (126-5).