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BLETCHLEY Town’s relegation from the top division was as good as confirmed with an agonising 10-run home defeat to local rivals Leighton Buzzard on Saturday.
With only three matches remaining, starting with a trip to champions-elect Horspath on Saturday, Bletchley’s task is almost impossible as they sit firmly bottom of the table.
Bowling Leighton Buzzard out for just 169, Bletchley would have fancied their chances of pulling off just a second win of the season. It wasn’t to be though as Jack Kempster almost single-handedly led the visitors to victory, bowling Town out for 159 in reply.
At one point it looked like Bletchley’s James Sprittles would prove the match winner as he claimed the scalps of the top three Leighton batsmen on his way to figures of 5-83.
Skipper James Clark also enjoyed an excellent spell to record 3-28, but Town came up against an extremely stubborn Kempster who held firm to knock off a priceless 45 runs for the away side who had looked in big trouble at 129-9.
And with the ball in hand he was even more devastating, going on to claim six Bletchley wickets, including top scorer Matt Shepherd (29).
The home side produced a couple of decent partnerships to give themselves a chance of winning the game at 126-5 with 10 overs to play. But Sprittles (28) was run out by Phil Whatmore with a direct hit, before Kempster returned for his second spell to take the wickets of Clark (11) and Mark Grass (7) to put Leighton back in control.
Dan Scott (2-16) then bowled Mark Roberts (4) and when Whatmore ran out Nick Chapman (4) the hosts had been dismissed for 159.
If after so many cancelled matches and frustrating points decisions, Town needed further proof that luck wasn’t on their side this season, then it comes from the fact that Saturday’s match at Manor Fields was their last to be played at home this year.
After their trip to Horspath, who are unbeaten in 2012, Bletchley then visit Oxford & Bletchingdon Nondescripts and Oxford Downs in a last desperate bid to try and avoid the drop. And if they do it, then it will be the greatest of great escapes.
>> Great Brickhill have climbed up to third in Division One thanks to a superb six wicket home win over Cumnor.
Julian Blackwell (4-35) was the main protagonist of the away side’s downfall as he helped restrict them to 155. That was never going to be good enough at Brickhill, with Graeme Carter (44) and Garth Davson (35) firing the hosts to a fourth success in their debut top flight season as they won on 159-4.
Wolverton Town were on the end of a surprise defeat to struggling Aston Rowant, but remain on course for an admirable mid-table finish this term.
Batting first, the visitors reached an impressive 233-9 despite the efforts of Hakeem Khan (3-67). There were good knocks from Wolves’ Aky Hussain (56) and Kieran Lampard (42) in reply, but that wasn’t enough as the home team fell for 183 and a 50-run defeat.
Wolverton Town 2nds (136-8) have one hand on the league title after their 17-run win over Oxford & Bletchingdon Nondescripts 2nds (119) – with Gleen Dickenson producing a match-winning spell of 6-45 for Wolves.
Wolves stay 10 points clear of Great Brickhill 2nds (205-9) who beat Aston Rowant 2nds (83) by 122 runs.
STONY Stratford can enjoy their last four games of the season safe in the knowledge that their Premier Division status has been secured for another year.
The men from Ostlers Lane lost out to Finedon Dolben by 72 runs on Saturday, but after last season’s fight against relegation they look set for an excellent mid-table finish in 2012.
Finedon reached just 183 thanks to great spells from Steve Bellew (4-36) and Andrew Ellemore (3-47). However, Stony struggled with the bat and were dismissed for a poor 111, with number eight Kevin Wijesinghe firing off 52 of them.
Stony Stratford 2nds (150) still have work to do to guarantee survival after a five wicket loss to Northampton Saints (154-5) as they sit eighth in the table.
Stony Stratford 3rds (204-6) remain in the hunt for promotion despite their losing draw to Higham Ferrers (228).
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NORTH Crawley missed their chance to climb to the top of the table as leaders MK City were on the end of a surprise defeat to Olney Town, but they also suffered defeat to New City.
MK City (150-9) lost just their second game of the season at Olney (151-7) by three wickets, but stay 20 points clear at the top because North Crawley (175) fell by 14 runs to third placed New City (189) who have also emerged as title contenders themselves.
Elsewhere Milton Keynes (96-3) got the better of lowly New Bradwell (95) in a seven wicket victory, while Newport Pagnell (216-7) sealed a winning draw against Elstow (175-8).
Cranfield University’s (210-8) hopes of promotion remain alive thanks to a 59-run beating of Studham (151) and Old Bradwell (302-5) got the better of a winning draw with Open University (196-5).
Stoke Hammond (219-7) are sitting pretty at the top of the table after their 124-run thrashing of Stewkley (95).
Willen (162-6) are on course to join them in sealing promotion after seeing off Shenley Church End (159-8) by four wickets, as North Crawley 2nds (174) saw off New Bradwell 2nds (82) by 92 runs.
Milton Keynes 2nds (160-7) are still looking on course for promotion, sitting second in the table after a three wicket win against Harlington (159-8).
Westcroft (274-7) earned a winning draw with Tring Park 4ths (117-9) and New City 2nds (294-5) had the better of a draw against Ivinghoe & Pitstone (213-9).
Great Brickhill 3rds’ (145) hopes of promotion probably came to an end as they went down to Wing (146-4) by six wickets.
Stony Stratford 4ths (218-6) had a winning draw against Newport Pagnell 2nds (145-8), North Crawley 3rds (139) lost to Elstow (219-8) by 80 runs and Old Bradwell 2nds (181-7) beat Olney Town 2nds (180-9) by three wickets.
MK City 2nds (121-9) still have a chance of promotion despite a losing draw against Little Horwood (140).