The West of England Premier League title race is set to go down to the wire following last Saturday’s round of matches.
Frocester’s win over Corsham puts them just nine points behind leaders Bath, whose own win over third-placed Taunton Deane puts the top two even further out ahead.
With just two matches remaining, the clash on the final Saturday between Bath and Frocester could now be on course to be a title decider.
In the meantime though, Taunton Deane have the chance to dent Frocester’s hopes when the two meet in an intriguing tie at The Convent Field this weekend.
Bath, missing Alex Barrow on Somerset duty, wrapped up a four-wicket win over Deane at North Parade with seven overs to spare, thanks to a near run-a-ball 103 from opener Will Jenkins.
Responding to Deane’s 231-9, Bath lost two early wickets, with only 12 on the board, including Somerset academy player Tim Rouse for a duck. But George Hankins (31) joined Jenkins and the pair rebuilt, adding 78 for the third wicket.
Bath lost two further wickets and when the fifth fell at 151, the hosts needed a further 81 runs to win. Keeper Luke Padgett (26*) joined Jenkins for a stand of 68 for the sixth wicket to take their side to the brink of victory before Jenkins was out for a fine 103 off 107 balls with 14 fours and one six. Daniel Milligan finished with figures of 3-41, while Jack Fraser took 2-43.
Earlier former Somerset batsman Rob Woodman top scored for Deane with a run-a-ball 72 with eight fours and a six. But after he was out, one of two wickets for Jonathan Green, Deane slipped to 148-6 until a 46-run partnership for the seventh wicket from keeper Sam Shaikh (19) and Russell Jones (32) helped
their side post something approaching a competitive total. Both Shaikh and Jones were among three wickets for Harry Rouse who mopped up the tail, while there were also two wickets for Simon Marchant.
Taunton Deane were without Jack Leach who had been playing in Somerset’s Royal London One Day Cup campaign, but missed out on selection for the four-day championship game against Warwickshire.
This was Deane’s second loss in a fortnight, following their defeat to Weston the previous weekend. They hang onto their third place but are now just two points clear of Downend in fourth.
Frocester completed a comfortable win over mid-table side Corsham by 91 runs with 8.3 overs to spare last Saturday.
Batting first at Pounds Close, Frocester reached 255-9 off their 50 overs, Tom Wand top scoring with 89 off 97 balls with six fours and five sixes, while there were useful scores in the 30s from Oliver Jones, Lewis Gegg and Nick Trainor. The hosts might have posted an even higher total had their progress not been checked by Paul Robbins who took the last six wickets to fall for 49 runs in his 10 overs.
In reply, despite a 64-run opening partnership from Peter Dennett (37) and Toby Davies (20), Corsham lost wickets at regular intervals and only 51 from skipper Ashur Morrison saved them from a bigger margin of defeat.
All the Frocester bowlers played their part, Oliver Jones starting the collapse by removing both openrs and finishing with 3-27, while Nick Trainor picked up two wickets for just nine runs in 1.3 overs to end the innings. There were also two wickets each for Paul Muchall and Richard Cave.
The result strengthens Frocester’s position in second place, but defeat – along with a win for Bristol – sees Corsham slip from fifth to sixth. They now sit just one point ahead of Bridgwater.
Downend closed the gap on third-placed Taunton Deane with a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Taunton St Andrews at The Wyvern Club last Saturday.
Philip Allen was the key destroyer, removing the entire St Andrews middle order, finishing with 5-26 off his 10 overs as the home side were dismissed for just 84 in 23.4 overs. Following his century against Bridgwater last week, there was a very rare duck for Somerset’s James Regan, who was the first of Allen’s victims when he was adjudged lbw. Former Somerset batsman Keith Parsons top scored with 35, but became the first of three victims for Matthew Jackson, who also nipped out two tailenders.
In reply, Downend made short work of their target, reaching their target in just 19.5 overs as Richard Pandya finished unbeaten on 45.
The result compounds St Andrews’ woes in the relegation zone at the foot of Premier One. They remain in ninth place, comfortably ahead of tenth placed Ashcott & Shapwick, but 25 points behind Weston Super Mare, who won their fixture with Bridgwater on Saturday.
There was a very similar result at Bristol Cricket Club on Saturday, where the home side comfortably beat basement club Ashcott & Shapwick by nine wickets.
Ashcott & Shapwick were bowled out for just 86 in 31.1overs, as Rhys Williams ran through their batting order, taking 4-37. Only three batsmen made it into double figures (each of them making 14).
In reply former Gloucestershire and Somerset wicket-keeper Steve Snell made an unbeaten 55 to lead Bristol to victory in just nine overs. Tom Smith finished 28*.
Bristol move up from seventh to fifth following that win, while the visitors remain firmly rooted to the foot of the table, some 76 points behind ninth placed Taunton St Andrews.
A 190-run partnership from Weston’s John Williams and Shabil Ahmed helped their side to a total which proved too much for Bridgwater last Saturday, despite the visitors’ tail almost taking their side to a thrilling last-wicket victory.
Williams made 105 off just 99 balls with 13 fours and two sixes, while his partner finished unbeaten on 88* with three fours and three sixes in a 157-ball stay at the crease.
Weston finished on 245-2 in their 50 overs with Jalal Ahmed also making 31.
In reply, Bridgwater lost regular wickets and were indebted to Chris Gange who made a 109-ball 83 with six fours.
When Gange fell with the score 171-7, Bridgwater needed a further 74 and their cause looked lost. That they got so close though was mostly due to Mitchell Windsor who made exactly 50 off just 39 balls with three fours and three sixes. Windsor was supported by the tail, but late wickets from Sam Trego (3-52) and Tom Court (2-21) ensured the home side emerged the winners by nine runs – a result which lifts them 25 points clear of the relegation zone. Bridgwater slip from sixth to seventh.
There were also two wickets each for Andy Fear and Shabil Ahmed.
Next round of matches: Saturday 23 August:
(current league positions in brackets)
Ashcott and Shapwick (10) v Taunton St Andrews (9)
Corsham (6) v Bristol (5)
Downend (4) v Bridgwater (7)
Taunton Deane (3) v Frocester (2)
Weston Super Mare (8) v Bath (1)
Links: Bath CC v Taunton Deane CC – http://tauntondeane.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11847836
Bristol CC v Ashcott & Shapwick CC – http://bristol.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11847848
Frocester CC v Corsham CC – http://corsham.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11847879
Taunton St Andrews CC v Downend CC – http://downend.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11847898
Weston Super Mare CC v Bridgwater CC – http://bridgwater.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11847904
West of England Premier Cricket League – Premier One table after 16 games: http://tauntondeane.play-cricket.com/league_table?id=402&season_id=72