Not even the presence of Sussex star Harry Finch could save Hastings Priory Cricket Club from defeat in a key game on Saturday.
The accomplished batsman, who has scored centuries for Sussex in the Specsavers County Championship and Royal London One Day Cup this season, made his first Priory appearance of the summer in a six-wicket defeat away to Middleton.
Priory picked up 26 points fewer than their opponents in what at the start of play was a clash between the teams lying third-from-bottom and second-from-bottom.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Priory were all out for 148 in 45.4 overs, with only Joe Billings and Jake Woolley - the team’s two form batsmen - reaching 20.
They began reasonably enough with an opening partnership of 39, which ended when Finch was bowled by Craig Fowle (19-0-42-5) for 16.
Fowle then had Ryan Hoadley caught for four to leave Priory 57-2 and that became 70-3 when Matthew Reynolds (13.4-1-58-5) opened his account by trapping Billings leg before for 48 - a score which took his league run tally for the campaign to 542 at an average of 54.20.
Woolley and captain Tom Gillespie put on 38 for the fourth wicket to take the total into three figures, but that partnership ended when Gillespie was caught off the bowling of Reynolds for 15.
Reynolds bowled Elliot Hooper for nine just 10 runs later before Fowle pinned Harry Scowen and John Morgan leg before for five and six respectively, the latter having struck the second of the innings’ two sixes.
Reynolds then dismissed Josh Beeslee in the same fashion for a nine-ball duck and Fowle completed his five-wicket haul by having Woolley caught for a very creditable 34 from 75 balls. His league run tally for the season now stands at 347 with an average of 38.56.
Adam Pye blasted 10 off seven balls before becoming the last man out, bowled by Reynolds, who like Fowle ended up with five wickets.
Priory gave themselves a bit of hope with the ball when they dismissed both Middleton openers with the score 25. Morgan (5-0-9-1) firstly had captain Sean Heather caught behind by Billings for 10 and Pye (7-0-27-1) then bowled Reynolds for three.
Finch later trapped Will Burrows leg before for seven to leave Middleton 45-3, but any hopes of an unlikely Priory victory were effectively ended by a fourth wicket partnership of 71 between Jack Dawling and Mahesh Rawat.
Although Jack Coleman (7-1-31-1) had Rawat caught behind for 40 off 34 balls, Dawling (46 not out off 101 balls) and Patrick Colvin (23 not out off 25 balls) guided Middleton past the winning post in the 38th over.
Hooper didn’t pick up a wicket, but conceded just 30 runs from his 12 overs and bowled four of the five maidens in the innings.
Sussex Cricket League Premier Division standings (all played 11 matches): 1 Roffey 254pts, 2 Brighton & Hove 245, 3 Eastbourne 222, 4 East Grinstead 221, 5 Horsham 218, 6 Preston Nomads 211, 7 Middleton 155, 8 Cuckfield 151, 9 HASTINGS PRIORY 116, 10 Ifield 102.
See also: * Hastings’ spirits lifted ahead of another key contest
* Hastings clinch vital victory in bottom two tussle
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