Oswestry’s cricketers suffered an agonising defeat on Saturday in one of the best games seen at Morda Road for many years – but a result elsewhere meant they avoided relegation from Division Two of the Birmingham League.
Stratford-upon-Avon’s defeat at Coventry, confirmed an hour before the end of Oswestry’s game against Penkridge, meant the Warwickshire side will accompany already-doomed Stourbridge down to Division Three.
“It would have been nice to have stayed up by our own efforts on the last day, but we’d have settled for this outcome before the game,” said Oswestry chairman Mike Robinson as the players left the field.
“The hard work starts now to build a side that can be more competitive next season.
“We’ve learned a few lessons over the past two years, and it’s up to us to cash in on what has amounted to a stay of execution.”
Oswestry made a great effort to reach the target of 242 set by Penkridge, but failed by just two runs.
Despite being cheered on by the biggest crowd of the season, having to bat for the last hour in very poor light – the game didn’t finish after 7pm – proved too much for them.
Joe Carrasco led the Oswestry chase with a magnificent century after sharing an opening stand of 102 with Warrick Fynn.
When Fynn, Oswestry’s leading run scorer and wicket-taker this season, fell for 51, Josh Coleridge (15) and Robbie Clarke (49) kept up the good work.
Carrasco was eventually bowled by Attiq Chishti for 106, which included six fours and two sixes, and it was left to the experienced duo of Mark Robinson and Jonathan Miles to see Oswestry over the line.
But in the gathering gloom, they failed to score the seven runs they needed to win off the last over, and the innings closed at 240-5.
Earlier Penkridge’s good score was set up almost single-handedly by Rana Hassan, who hit a magnificent 154no. His innings, off just 137 balls, included 15 fours and five sixes.
One bowler to escape punishment was former skipper Ian Davies, who returned the excellent figures of 1-18 off his 10 overs.
Oswestry Seconds were doomed to relegation some weeks ago, and they ended their season with a crushing defeat at another relegated side, Wellington Seconds.
By a strange quirk of fate, the four teams who will drop from Division One Second XI in the Birmingham League are all from Shropshire, with Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth also on the way down.
Matty Simmonds (120no) and Chris Sheperd (100) both made centuries as Wellington racked up 327-4, and Oswestry were then bowled out for 132. Steve Humphreys top-scored for Oswestry with 32, Simon Corbett made 23 and Ryan Morris 22.
Oswestry Thirds rounded off the season with a two-wicket defeat against Sentinel at Morda Road.
Highlight of the game was a superb unbeaten 104 by Russell Morris, who led Sentinel to 176-6 in reply to the home side’s 175-4.
Skipper James Bradbury (60) and Neil Darley (28) shared a century opening stand for Oswestry, with Jim Phillips adding 37no and Josh Darley 20no. Pick of the Oswestry bowlers were Allan Morris (3-53) and Stu Owen (2-38).
For a picture special and a full round-up of the final week of the cricket season see this week's Advertizer.