Middleton and Priory fall short but Bognor and Stirlands shine again
There were wins for Bognor and Stirlands but defeats for Chichester, Middleton, Pagham and Eastergate in our latest round-up from the top five divisions of the Sussex League.
Here are the reports...
Brighton and Hove v Middleton
With one eye on the unpredictability of the Brighton wicket, Middleton captain Sean Heather decided to put Brighton into bat after winning the toss for the fourth week in a row.
Brighton got off to a good start with Issac Taylor and Bryce Hounsome putting on 60 for the first wicket. Taylor was caught by Heather off the bowling of Matt Reynolds for 25 before Matt Machan, the former Scotland and Sussex batsman, came in.
Machan was next out for 20 with the score on 101, caught by Middleton debutant Josh Wood off Heather.
All the Brighton top six got into the twenties but only Hounsome went on to build on it. He was third out for 53 with the score on 108. Brighton reached 235-9 from their 50 overs. Craig Fowle with 3-26 off ten overs was the pick of the Middleton bowlers.
Middleton’s reply never got going with wickets falling regularly. Both openers had gone with the score on ten inside the first two overs.
Nobody in the Middleton top order reached 20. Brandon Hanley top-scored with 19 and was last man out with the score on just 88.
Middleton are on the road this week to Preston Nomads, knowing their batters will need to improve.
Mayfield v Chichester Priory Park
Chichester’s second away game of the year brought a long journey to Mayfield on the East Sussex/Kent border on a hot, sweltering day.
The picturesque Wellbrook ground pitted them against one of the favourites for the division-two title. Chichester captain Matt Geffen invited the hosts to bat.
The decision looked a good one early on as the Mayfield batters struggled to score fluently. Chichester kept picking up regular wickets and after 30 overs, Mayfield looked in a precarious position at 89-6.
What followed was a period Chichester might want to forget as Carl Shankland (56no) and Jason Finch (49) quickly racked up the runs.
Even the dismissal of Finch didn’t offer any respite as Matt Cook (31no) kept the momentum going. The onslaught eventually ended as Mayfield closed on 220-7 from 45 overs.
Given the momentum swing, it came as no great surprise when Chichester struggled in their response. Wickets fell consistently with Rob Sharma (6-40) the destroyer in chief.
Only debutant wicket keeper Morgan Hopkins (33no) was able to fend off the attack. Chichester kept up with the run rate but the loss of wickets hurt their chase and they were bowled out for 110, giving Mayfield victory by 110 runs.
The result sees Chichester slide down the table but it’s still very early days. Up next are two home games, the first of which is against old rivals Haywards Heath.
Bognor v Ansty
Bognor’s fine start to the season continued with a thumping 135-run at home to Ansty.
A knock of 43 from tom Woolnough and 42 from Ryan Maskell helped form the backbone of the hosts’ innings as they totalled 207 for seven. Opener Josh Seward contributed a useful 37, although Charlie Rutter with 3-36 prevented Bognor scoring more.
Ansty were never in it in reply as Marquino Mindley bowled superbly to take 4-11 and Joel Baker finished off the visitors with 3-3 in 2.5 overs – Ansty all out for just 72.
This week Bognor go to Three Bridges.
Steyning v Stirlands
Div 3 West
Stirlands travelled to Steyning intent on continuing their winning streak – and were not disappointed.
Visiting captain George Coles lost the toss and Stirlands were invited to bat.
Openers Will Gubbins and George Briance were positive from ball one but Steyning’s fielders restricted Briance in particular to very few scoring opportunities.
Gubbins brought up yet another half-century for his side before falling to James Johnson for a well-constructed 66, having put on 95 with Briance before the younger of the two departed for 21.
Steyning were then able to claim wickets at regular intervals as Stirlands looked to push on towards 200. Torquil Deacon was caught for 35, then captain Coles trapped lbw for eight.
In-form Jamaine Bullen was run out by James Johnson for 23, before some late hitting from Jake Moores and Adam Downing took the visitors beyond 200 in their 45 overs, finishing on 205-6.
In the reply, Bullen bowled with pace and hostility alongside new-ball partner David Briance, who showed great control. Bullen took the opening wicket, Ryan Matthews caught behind for 15, while Briance’s economy again proving key as his nine overs went for only 28 and he took the wicket of the aggressive Oliver Collins, bowled for 18.
Captain Coles brought himself on to increase the pressure on Steyning. He struck with uncanny regularity rocking Steyning and putting Stirlands on the brink of victory, Steyning stumbling to 104-8 as Coles and the younger Briance excelled.
Steyning refused to roll over and Bartholomew Poyser and James Johnson edged the home side towards their target before Johnson was bowled by Coles for a well-constructed 24. Veteran Andy Isaacs came in and the last pair dealt with everything thrown at them by an increasingly frustrated Stirlands side who saw mistakes creep in.
With two overs left and Steyning requiring less than 20, Poyser charged Gubbins, who spun a delivery past the oncoming batsman, crashing into middle stump sealing victory for Stirlands and another 30 points.
Next up for Stirlands is a top-of-the-table clash at home to Findon.
Pagham v Findon
Div 3 West
Findon won the toss and had no hesitation in deciding to bat on a dry, hard wicket. Thanks to numerous no-balls and wides Findon got off to a brisk start and were scoring at seven an over before losing Mathew Glover (20) with the score on 64.
Findon continued to dominate the Pagham bowlers and quickly reached 200-3. The re-introduction of Rico Webb soon paid dividends as he picked up three wickets. Findon ended on 264-9, Glenn Bridson getting 50 and Rico Webb ending with 4-54.
Pagham made their familiar dismal start losing their first five wickets for 38 and seemed to be facing an embarrassing defeat. Webb however decided attach was the best form of defence and proceded to hit 79 in just 36 balls.
Useful contributions from the Pagham tail saw the home side end 213 all out.
West Wittering v Steyning
Div 5 West
On a very warm day, Steyning put Wittering in to bat. Jonny Druce and Gareth Lendrum opened the batting and got off to a conservative start, Druce departing for just three off 30 balls.
Wittering skipper Carl Tupper was bowled first ball by a swinging yorker by Steyning’s Jake Martin. When Lendrum was out for 39, Wittering had to rebuild.
This began with a good solid partnership between Liam Bates and Brandon Trimmer but they both departed for 21, with Bates getting out first ball after drinks. Wittering knew they still needed runs and Harry Staight began to counter-attack, hitting the ball to all parts, but was eventually caught at mid-wicket for 38.
Andy Priest carried on where Staight had left off, hitting the ball straight down the ground, differing from his usual deadbat style. With the help of Joe Pink and Charlie Millar, Priest got Wittering up to 173 for nine off 49 overs, finishing on 30 not out.
Steyning got off to a steady start, but two quick wickets from Pink got Wittering back in it. A brilliantly-worked plan from skipper Carl Tupper got Steyning’s top scorer Issac out for 34, with an outstanding catch from Harry Staight in gully off Tupper’s bowling.
The bowling partnership of Priest and James Staight kept wickets falling at regular intervals. Steyning were all out for 105 with J Staight getting the final wicket and finishing with 3-14.
Wittering keep punching above their weight and look forward to going to East Preston this week.
Eastergate v Chippingdale
Div 5 West
Pete Smith, Eastergate’s captain, won the toss and elected to bat on a decent-looking wicket. At 57-7 the home team were struggling but father and son Rew Reed (25) and Josh Reed (24no) and an unbeaten last-wicket partnership between Josh and Tom Jaggar of 37 took them to 129-9 from 49 overs. Curtis Drake scored 24.
For Chips, opening bowler Lee Donaldson bowled 15 overs unchanged, taking 5-25.
In reply, the more experienced Chips team were never in trouble and an unbeaten second-wicket partnership of 103 between Josh Bourne (33no) and Aaron Tugnutt (61no) took the away side to victory at 133-1 off 23.1 overs.
Eastergate are looking at a season of rebuilding after losing several senior players and player unavailability, but the growing confidence and performances of several young players and an excellent team spirit will encourage optimism for the future.