Crowhurst Park’s cricketers gave the runaway leaders a very good run for their money on Saturday.
Park eventually went down by five wickets in the final over away to a Middleton side which is a massive 73 points clear at the top of Sussex Cricket League Division Two.
After losing the toss and being asked to take first knock on an excellent batting track, Park produced a much-improved batting display to total 244-7 from their 53 overs.
There were many key contributions from a rejigged line-up with all of the top six scoring more than 25 against a Middleton side which has won 10 and drawn one of its 11 games so far.
Nick Peters (21) and Dale Payne (28) put on 54 for the first wicket until both fell within six runs of each other. Payne was firstly bowled by Brandon Hanley and Peters was then caught off the bowling of James Rufey.
Batting at three for the first time, Cam Flanagan made a useful 33 and forged a third wicket partnership of 52 with Bradley Payne (31). Flanagan fell to Rob Willway and Bradley Payne was dismissed by Keelan Shoulders 16 runs later.
Clive Tong and Kellen Powell (36) provided excellent acceleration during a fifth wicket stand of 84. Tong scored a blistering 71 off just 33 balls with nine fours and four sixes to give Park their highest total of the season.
Middleton got off to a decent start in reply with an opening partnership of 80 until Paul Brookes removed both openers within 11 runs of each other. Shoulders was caught by Peters for 31 and Willway was caught by Dale Payne for 52.
Peters ran out George Holman for three to make it 123-3 before Ben Hansford and Jofra Archer compiled a fourth wicket stand of 70, which ended when the latter was caught by Bradley Payne off Flanagan.
Will Burrows came in at six and made an important 28 and although he was caught by Tong off Brookes (3-56), Hansford (77 not out) saw Middleton home with just four balls to spare.
Park gained 12 very useful points from a tight contest played in superb spirit against a team destined for the Premier League next season. They remain seventh going into the visit from Worthing this coming Saturday.