Haywards Heath fell 58 runs short against Mayfield on Saturday.
Electing to bat first, Mayfield got off to a quick start thanks to the aggressive opening pair of Jason Finch and Rob Raymond who struck three sixes and nine fours between them on their way to an opening stand of 55.
Max Barson made the first breakthrough for Heath when he trapped Finch lbw for 19, and soon Mayfield found themselves with two batsmen on zero as Raymond gave a return catch to Jonny Phelps who had been introduced early to stem the flow of runs. Number three Nisal Francisco negotiated some good overs of both spin and seam in the early part of his innings but soon began so show his class, using his feet well against Callum Smith who had followed Barson from the Sydney Road end. Francisco and Harry Lloyd moved the score on to 107 before Chris Blunt snuck a full delivery through the defences of Lloyd.
Heath controlled the run rate well during the middle-overs thanks to accurate spells from Ollie Bailey and Smith, and the latter deservedly took the wicket of Carl Shankland before the end of his 9 overs. Francisco passed 50 before offering a catch to Gary Honeysett off the bowling of Phelps – Gary, playing his first 1st XI game for three years but his 799th for Heath in all - soon informed his team mates that the catch was his 424th for the club.
At 169 -5 Heath were hopeful of restricting Mayfield to something around 220 but contributions from Will Robertshaw (26), William Sheffield (23) and Matt Cooke (25) took the visitors up to 254 all out in the final over. Bailey and Phelps each picked up two wickets before Blunt closed the innings with the wicket of Cooke.
Sheffield and Cooke started well with the ball for Mayfield, Cooke had Blunt out lbw with the first ball of his spell and both bowlers managed to keep the shackles on the usually fast scoring Phelps. The pressure led to a couple of chances but these were not taken and Phelps started to find the middle of his bat, particularly against the spin of James Allen. Allen fought back with the wicket of Alistair Templeton (14), but when Smith joined Phelps in the middle Heath began to make a real fist of the run chase, rattling along at better than a run a ball until both men were dismissed with the score on 92, Phelps for 55 and Smith for 20.
With a flat wicket and fast outfield the chase was always viable once batters were set so Barson and Bailey took a little time to rebuild the Heath reply. Just as momentum was returning to the chase Barson and Tashaffi Shams were caught off the bowling of Francisco meaning thoughts of a win were all but dead.
That said, Bailey and number 8 Dipak Karki looked in good form from the off and the pair pushed on, Bailey (42) striking a couple of towering sixes before being caught on the boundary. William Sheffield returned to the attack in the closing overs and took the final three wickets, the last saw Honeysett (17) caught on the boundary to leave Heath just short of maximum batting points at 196 all out.