Not even a second seven-wicket haul of the season from Paul Brookes could prevent Crowhurst Park from sliding to a heavy defeat at home to promotion-chasing Billingshurst.
The Park skipper finished with impressive figures of 7-91 at the Walcott Ground on Saturday to take his tally to 43 (at an average of 13.13) in Sussex Cricket League Division Two.
With three matches remaining Brookes is well on course to achieve the half century, a milestone he just missed out on by a solitary wicket last summer.
Conditions were ideal for the medium pacer after the heavy rain of the previous week meant the club did brilliantly just to get the game on.
Unfortunately, the result did not reflect that effort as Park’s batting fell well short of what was required against opposition still very much in with a shout of ending the campaign as champions.
Park won the toss and opted to bowl, a decision which seemed justified when Billingshurst slumped to 64-4 and then 85-5 against the opening attack of Bradley Payne (1-41) and Brookes.
But a sixth wicket partnership of 48 and another stand of 46 for the eighth wicket enabled the visitors to post a useful total of 205-8 off 40 overs.
Rob Woodman (66 not out), Scott Stratton (40) and Ben Williams (32) scored the bulk of the runs, while Brookes picked up all but one of the eight wickets to fall during an unchanged spell of 20 overs.
At the other end, Richard Coleman kept things reasonably tight with 0-31 off 10 overs. Brookes was backed up by some fine fielding which resulted in every wicket being caught.
Park inched to 18 without loss in reply before the wheels began to come off and it wasn’t long before they found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 27-4.
The middle order of Clive Tong (29), Ed Smissen (12) and Matt Peters (14) tried to repair the damage but Dhanushka Mitipolaarachchi had the final say with excellent figures of 7.2-1-18-5 as Park were all out for 94. The other wicket-takers were Andy Barr (10-3-26-3), Shane West (8-3-12-1) and David Dunn (1-1).
Despite the defeat Park actually moved up a place in the standings after Findon suffered a shock defeat at the hands of bottom-of-the-table Goring-by-Sea. Park will be very keen to put on an improved performance with the bat away to Ifield on Saturday.