Abingdon Vale remain in relegation trouble after a 67-run home defeat to Horspath 2nd in Cherwell League Division 2, writes Graham Scott.
But on a day when neither of the top two could manage a win, Horspath moved within 14 points of the summit with three matches to go and 75 points to play for.
Their two remaining home games – against Cublington and Oxford & Bletchingdon Nondescripts – are eminently winnable, so all could hang on their visit to fellow contenders Long Marston on Saturday, August 30.
Put in to bat on a typically slow Hales Meadow pitch, Horspath’s total of 174-9 was better than it might sound.
Jehan Mohammed top-scored with 48, while Vale’s left-arm spinner Paul White carried the attack yet again by taking 4-42.
Vale’s problem for the past decade has not been with their bowling, but with batsmen who fail to apply themselves and struggle to chase relatively low totals.
The same issue arose again at the weekend, when they stumbled to 107 all out to leave themselves only one off the bottom.
The number of teams to be relegated is still not known due to the complexities of the league pyramid.
However, Vale may yet need one more win to avoid the drop, and face current leaders Leighton Buzzard Town on the final day.
It’s time for Vale’s batsmen to get their heads down and post some higher totals.
Challow & Childrey left Cropredy needing a miracle to avoid finishing bottom of after their five-wicket win.
The hosts were up against it when Ross Packham took 5-43, including the dismissals of Richard Lynch (70) and Jordan Glazier (40). Olly Dimbylow took 3-45.
Cropredy’s total of 179 was never going to be enough once Ryan Gordon (68) and Justin Penrose (30) got Challow off to a good start.
Fred Walker (48) was out just before they got to 181-5.
Didcot closed in on second spot in Division 3 after beating Buckingham Town 2nd by the narrowest of margins.
Ian Demain took 4-50 as hosts Town were bowled out for 198. Harry Martin hit 45.
Demain then hit 43 not out as Didcot stumbled over the winning line on 199-9.
Simon Pritchard (37) and Henry Brisland (30) also made valuable runs, while Saajan Patel (4-45) and Dominic Pritchard (4-58) were left frustrated.
Blewbury&Wallingford moved closer to the top of Division 4, ousting Leighton Buzzard Town 2nd for 90.
Charlie Sutton (4-43) and Warren Ainsworth, who took 4-10, wreaked havoc.
The hosts made heavy weather of the chase, but Joey Edwards (30no) saw them to 91-5.
Matthew Warner took 5-47 as Kingston Bagpuize dismissed Bledlow Ridge for 168.
Richard Giles (3-41) helped out as Russ Turner was stranded on 82 not out.
Dave Warner then hit 69 in the visitors’ 169-4.
Didcot 2nd were consigned to a bottom-placed finish in Division 5 after a four-wicket home defeat to Tiddington 2nd, who boosted their own promotion hopes.
The hosts reached 148 all out, with only Oliver Delamore (44) and Andy Griffiths (42) getting going.
Tiddington made 150-6 despite the best efforts of Tim Allen (3-23).
Abingdon Vale 2nd were on the wrong end of a draw at Cumnor 2nd.
Joel Washbourn-Calcutt hit 91 as Cumnor gained maximum batting points by reaching 220-8. He added 116 for the third wicket with George Glew (34).
Matt Darley took 4-46 for the visitors, who were restricted to 152-7 by Michael Jones (4-49).
Challow & Childrey 2nd slipped to a 119-run defeat against Horspath 3rd in Division 6.
Asad Rafiq scored 100 not out in Horspath’s 221-6 before Challow were all out for 102.
Abingdon Vale 3rd denied Sandford St Martin 2nd victory in Division 7.
Hosts Sandford clocked up a mammoth 278-3, Mark Cook the star with 124.
In reply, Vale finished on 156-8.