Bexhill Cricket Club experienced mixed fortunes in its two Sussex Premier League games at the weekend.
A five-wicket defeat at home to leaders Roffey on Saturday was followed by a 106-run win against the Sussex Development XI in their game in hand yesterday (Sunday).
Bexhill's title dreams suffered a potentially fatal blow against Roffey, who are on course for a third consecutive title heading into the final three games of the campaign.
Having lost the toss and been inserted, Bexhill got off to a decent start. But as soon as the Roffey opening bowlers switched ends, things changed.
Malcolm Johnson fell to a spectacular one-handed diving catch on the run by Alex Southon at fine leg and that seemed to open the floodgates as Sam Roberts (18) and Shawn Johnson followed pretty quickly afterwards.
Johnathan Haffenden (31 off 76 balls), Callum Guest (20 off 56 balls) and Ethan Guest (22 off 39 balls) resisted in the middle order, but Bexhill had to work hard for their runs and could never get on top of the disciplined Roffey bowling.
Will Edwards (10) was the only other batsman to reach double figures as Bexhill were all out for 143 in 53.3 overs. George Fleming recorded remakable figures of 4-59 from 26 overs, despite going for 12 in his first over.
With such a small total to defend, it was always going to be an uphill task for Bexhill in the field. Shawn Johnson took two early wickets and Roberts chipped in with two, but Bexhill needed another 50-plus runs for the spinners to put pressure on the Roffey batsmen.
Rohit Jagota (45 not out) saw Roffey home in the 32nd over, with help from Usman Khan (35) and Theodore Rivers (32).
Bexhill put that defeat behind them with a comfortable victory on Sunday. A huge partnership of 168 between Roberts and Callum Guest, and five more wickets for Josh Beeslee were the highlights of a 106-run win over the Sussex Development XI.
After winning the toss and batting, Bexhill amassed a sizeable 257-8 thanks largely to the third wicket stand between Roberts (97) and Guest (84). Both men batted sensibly against the cream of the future Sussex bowlers, dispatching the bad balls and rotating strike in between.
The pair are making a habit of being in big partnerships and are closing in on 500 league runs for the season. Roberts is the Sussex Premier League's sixth highest scorer with 495 runs at an average of 55, while Guest is eighth with 482 at 48.20.
Bexhill slid from 218-2 at one stage as they lost wickets chasing quick runs, but the bowlers still had plenty to play with in The Polegrove sunshine.
Shawn Johnson (6-2-19-2) and Joe Cox (6-1-32-1) soon had the Development XI 19-3 in reply, and set things up nicely for the spinners, who duly picked up the remaining seven wickets.
The Development XI lost their fourth and fifth wickets with the score 60, and the remaining five wickets fell steadily thereafter as they were all out for 151 in 45.1 overs.
Beeslee continued his amazing run with his third five-wicket haul in the last four games, putting him eighth in the division's list of leading wicket-takers with 28 at 13.96. Roberts chipped in with two more wickets, taking his tally to 35 in the Sussex Premier League this season at 10.80.
Standings (all played 16 matches): 1 Roffey 359pts, 2 Cuckfield 340, 3 BEXHILL 315, 4 Horsham 300, 5 HASTINGS PRIORY 274, 6 Preston Nomads 246, 7 East Grinstead 245, 8 Brighton & Hove 219, 9 Billingshurst 184, 10 Worthing 127.
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