Chichester and Stirlands keep up promotion pressure

Action from Chichester's win over Haywards Heath / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Action from Chichester's win over Haywards Heath / Picture by Kate Shemilt

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The Sussex League season is boiling up nicely for Chichester Priory Park and Stirlands - both won their latest games to remain in the hunt for promotion.

Here are the latest reports...

Chichester Priory Park v Haywards Heath

Sussex League division three

Chichester Priory Park kept up the promotion pressure on the top two with victory over fifth-placed Haywards Heath.

After showers moved away, Chichester captain Johnny Heaven won the toss and asked the visitors to bat.

Next up for Stirlands - now level on points with Rottingdean in the race for second place - is a visit by league leaders Slinfold.

Haywards Heath made a cautious start with just 63 runs trickling off 20 overs. Opener Chris Blunt made a patient 38 before he was bowled by Heaven. Blunt’s innings summed up Haywards Heath’s batting: plenty of batsmen made starts but no-one kicked on.

Credit to bowlers Dan Joseph (4-72) and Matt Geffen (3-54), who had a knack for dismissing batsmen at crucial times. Runs flowed towards the end of the innings as Haywards Heath captain Callum Smith (44) and David Woodfield (39) pushed the score along.

The visitors sclosed their innings on 204 for eight.

Chichester got a lifeline when both openers were dropped in the slip cordon before the score reached double figures.

Will Futcher didn’t last too much longer and was caught behind for 14. Simon Hasted followed not long afterwards, dismissed ‘hit wicket’ when he fell on to his own stumps.

As last week against Mayfield, George Stephens helped to steady the ship with an entertaining 41. His innings included two huge sixes that threatened to clear the Roman Wall that surrounds one side of Priory Park.

His aggressive partnership with Sam Harvey took the match away from the visitors. Even when Stephens was dismissed, Harvey found another able partner in Ben Caldera (26).

The loss of two late wickets took a little gloss off the performance but Chichester schased down their target with two overs to spare, winning the match by four wickets.

Later, news filtered through that the two teams above Chichester, Burgess Hill and Portslade, had both lost. Chichester have closed the gap on Portslade to 13 points and they are only 27 points off the leaders.

Chichester’s final home game couldn’t be more critical – they take on Portslade in what could prove to be a winner-takes-all match for promotion. The message from the club is: Please gete down to Priory Park on Saturday to offer your support to the team.

Rottingdean v Stirlands

Sussex League division four

Stirlands held on for a draw away to promotion rivals Rottingdean.

Things started well for the home side, winning the toss and batting first and finding runs rather easy to come by as openers Islam and Ledden punished the youthful bowling line-up, putting 54 on for the first wicket before Stirlands’ overseas Ajinkya Deshpande struck.

Dark clouds began to roll in and there were three breaks for rain. For the visitors these proved a welcome relief as the home side were scoring with ease; peppering the boundary, assisted by sloppy fielding.

Stirlands finally broke the second-wicket stand of 95 and captain George Coles’ introduction of spin at both ends proved a game-changer as Rottingdean slipped from 149 for one to 203 for nine, with young George Briance taking his first five-wicket haul of the season – leaving Stirlands 47 overs to chase.

The home side removed the dangerous Leo Wilkinson-Beal and George Briance cheaply to leave the visitors 14 for two.

Stirlands found scoring tricky against a well-drilled fielding side as the experienced pair of Will Gubbins and Torquil Deacon looked to rebuild.

But 49 for two suddenly became 50 for six as home captain George Ledden’s canny off-spin ripped through the middle order, leaving captain Coles and Deshpande with the task of saving the game.

Coles refused to be drawn into any attacking shot as the overs were ticked off. Entering the final over, with Deshpande already out, Coles was trapped lbw for 19 off 71 deliveries.

Rottingdean couldn’t find the final two wickets and the match ended as a draw.

Next up for Stirlands - now level on points with Rottingdean in the race for second place - is a visit by league leaders Slinfold and as now they are level on points with Rottingdean; 30 points if they want to secure promotion.

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