Roffey title ambitions dented after away loss at Hastings

Cuckfield vs Roffey (batting) Jibram Khan SUS-171206-103432001
Cuckfield vs Roffey (batting) Jibram Khan SUS-171206-103432001

Roffey coach Simon Fearnley believes that East Grinstead are in the driving seat to capture the title, although there is still a slim chance that the Boars could catch them.

The reigning champions suffered a shock away loss to Hastings & St Leonards Priory on Saturday, losing by two wickets.

This coupled with East Grinstead’s emphatic 144-run away victory against Ansty sees second-place Roffey 35 points off the leaders.

Fearnley said: “It’s East Grinstead’s to lose but mathematically it is still possible for us to win it.

“We’ve just got to win our last two games and just hope East Grinstead lose theirs.

“This defeat will spur the players on because when they’ve lost they’ve responded like champions.

“This side shows great character and determination. When you lose games of cricket that’s when you learn the most about your players.”

After winning the toss on Saturday, Roffey elected to bat and got off to a rocky start losing Rohit Jagota (five) early. A 55-run partnership between Theo Rivers and Jibran Khan was ended as Rivers (28) was taken lbw.

Skipper Matt Davies (18) and Usman Khan (22) started well but failed to kick on before the loss of Jibran Khan. His superb knock of 115 (ten boundaries) helped lay the foundations for Roffey posting a competitive score before he lost his wicket with the score at 220-6.

Cameos from Chris Webb (25) and George Fleming (21) boosted the Boars total, seeing them finish their innings on 259-9 off 50 overs.

In response, Hastings’ opening pair, James Pooley (43) and Jason Finch (41) shared an opening partnership of 82 before Pooley was run out by Ben Manenti. Finch lost his wicket two runs later, taken lbw by Luke Barnard (3-51).

Rivers (2-40) and Manenti (2-51) took apart the middle order as Hastings added only ten runs for two wickets.

However, a 52-run partnership between Harry Scowen (25) and third-man in Joe Billings (70) saw Hastings put their noses in front before Scowen lost his wicket at 213-7. This was to be the final Hastings wicket to fall as John Morgan (23) and Jed O’Brien (11) saw the hosts to victory, finishing on 261-8 off 49.4 overs.

Fearnley said: “You have to give Hastings credit, they performed well. I do think the total we got should have been defendable.

“If you look over recent years, very few sides have chased down 250 against Roffey. For the first time this year, there was a good opposition opening partnership.

“This laid the foundations for the middle order and they weren’t under pressure to score quickly. One of the reasons why sides haven’t chased down big totals is us getting the early wicket and we didn’t get that to put Hastings on the back foot”.

Roffey face Middleton at home on Saturday.