Bexhill’s cricketers were beaten at Cuckfield yesterday (Saturday) despite another strong showing from Shawn Johnson.
The young all-rounder followed up his 61 with the bat against Preston Nomads the previous weekend by taking five wickets with the ball before Bexhill subsided to an 81-run defeat.
Bexhill remain just outside the Sussex Premier League’s two relegation places, though, because second-bottom Three Bridges had to settle for a draw away to Brighton & Hove after failing to dislodge the hosts’ last pair.
For the third week running, Bexhill had a different captain, this time Johnathan Haffenden. Cuckfield elected to bat on winning the toss and were bowled out for 207 in the 55th over.
It was a good bowling and fielding display from Bexhill in sweltering heat, with Johnson bowling superbly in his opening spell. Johnson made an early breakthrough by bowling Dominic Sear for a duck and Cuckfield were 28-2 after Johnson had James Thorpe caught behind by Cameron Burgon.
Johnson claimed his third victim by bowling Tom Cummins (26) 17 runs later and when spinner Josh Beeslee trapped Nicholas Beard LBW for 23, the score was 69-4.
Cuckfield rallied with a fifth wicket stand of 65, which ended when Dean Crawford had home skipper Marc Gardner caught behind for 41. Crawford struck again 16 runs later by trapping Chris Mole LBW for 25.
Callum Guest - whose 20 overs only went for 49 runs - had Harry Clark caught behind for 20 to leave Cuckfield 162-7 and that became 179-8 after Johnson had Nick Patterson caught by Crawford for nine.
It was 198-9 when Johnson completed his five-wicket haul by having wicketkeeper Marcus Campopiano caught by Liam Bryant for 19 and Crawford (3-48) finished the innings off nine runs later by having last man Kurtis Browning caught by Tim Hambridge for six.
Bexhill were going along nicely in reply until Hambridge had to retire hurt at 39-0 after 11 overs. Malcolm Johnson, this time batting at three having recently gone from opening to number seven, joined brother Shawn and Bexhill didn’t lose their first wicket until the score was 68 when Shawn Johnson was bowled by Beard for 29.
Malcolm Johnson made 24 until being caught by Mole off Josh Hayward to make it 93-2, but the rot rather set in thereafter as Bexhill slumped to 126 all out in 26.3 overs with Hambridge (18) and Haffenden (19) the only players other than the Johnson brothers to make double figures.
Bexhill will feel it was a game they should not have lost at 100-2 after 29 overs, yet none of their final seven batsmen scored more than six as Beard - a left-arm spinner from New Zealand - went through them.
Beard had just looked a reasonable bowler in taking 1-27 from his first nine overs, but then became unplayable with 5-4 from his next nine overs - five of which were maidens - to finish with figures of 7-31 from 18. Hayward claimed the other three wickets
Standings (played 13 matches unless stated): 1 Preston Nomads 251pts, 2 East Grinstead 248, 3 Roffey (12) 247, 4 Horsham (12) 203, 5 Eastbourne (12) 202, 6 Brighton & Hove 201, 7 Cuckfield 201, 8 BEXHILL 156, 9 Three Bridges 145, 10 HASTINGS PRIORY 107.
Bexhill are back in action today with a Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup semi-final away to Division Three leaders Ansty at 1pm. The seconds have a Gray-Nicolls Sussex 2nd XI T20 Cup semi-final away to Worthing at the same time.