Stony’s relegations battle goes to the wire

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Stony Stratford’s Premier Division survival fight is going down to the wire after a last gasp draw at home to Northampton Saints.

Stony managed to hang on bravely at the death after earlier looking like they might grab the vital win that would have secured their survival.

Meanwhile, bottom side Burton Latimer’s remarkable run of form continued as they beat Wollaston to close the gap at the bottom to just sixteen points as the league heads into it’s final round of games this Saturday.

Whilst Stony still hold the upper hand going in to the decisive games, their task on Saturday couldn’t be much harder as they travel to newly crowned champions Peterborough Town whilst Burton face hit or miss mid table side Old Northamptonians.

Stony have had several chances over the last few weeks to secure their Premier Division status and they will feel that this was another chance gone begging. After Saints decided to bat first, Stony had them on the rack at 130 for 8 after another magnificent spell of bowling from captain Alex Strong. Strong’s form with the ball has been the main reason why Stony have been in contention to win a few games recently and his 5 wicket burst here had the visitors in real trouble. Anything under 200 is almost impossible to defend at Campbell Park, so Saints would have been grateful for late order runs from veteran Richard Ashton, who has proved to be a thorn in Stony’s side over the years with bat and ball. In the end, Saints recovered brilliantly to set 225 as the target for the home side to secure their Premier Division status for another season.

Stony’s batting is about as solid as Manchester United’s defence these days and at 70 for 6, they once again found themselves in a perilous position. However, they showed some real grit to get out of the mess and hang on for what could be a valuable draw. Veteran Jilesh Pattni’s unbeaten 60 was their key to survival and Andrew Ellemore hung around for a patient 15 to slow down the Saints charge. In the end, Stony were nine down with 6 overs to bat out with number 11 Steve Richardson, not known for his prowess with the willow, together with Pattni. After a few scares, the pair managed to survive and secured 11 vital points in the process.

So Stony go into the last round of fixtures with their 13 year stay in the top flight hanging in the balance. That Burton have managed to whittle down a 65 point gap to just 16 is to their credit and should they manage one last win to survive, they will thoroughly deserve it. Stony need to produce the performance of the season to get a result at Bretton Gate and keep their destiny in their own hands.

An under strength Stony 2nd XI were well beaten, officially ending any faint hope they had of promotion from Division 2. Stony posted only 133 with Chris Swain top scoring with 28 and Jamie Baxter and Craig Jolley both hitting 23. Kamran Muhammed’s 4-23 off 15 impressive overs was the undoing of the Stony innings. In reply, Saints got home very quickly – in just 22 overs in fact – as Stony struggled badly with the ball. Jack Mousley’s 58 not out sent his side past winning post in no time at all as Stony fell to only their second defeat of the season.

Meanwhile Stony 3rds are set for their own last game showdown – this time at the right end of the table. They remained on course for promotion from Division 5 after a comfortable 84 run win over Mears Ashby. Stony’s innings of 192-9 was built around an important 63 from skipper Rob Arnold and 38 from fellow old timer Neil Allen. Stony’s Michael Brown has had a season to remember with the ball and her was excellent here again, claiming 5 for 40 from his 15 overs to put the game firmly in Stony’s control. There was some late resistance from the Mears Ashby tail, but this was broken by young spinner Ben Arnold, who’s 2-12 finished the game off for his side. Stony remain in second place, 8 points ahead of local rivals Wicken and 18 points behind long time leaders St Crispins. With only two going up, it’s sure to be a tense final game of the season for Rob Arnold’s men.