Bexhill’s cricketers were edged out in a tight Sussex Premier League tussle at home to Horsham yesterday (Saturday).
Johnathan Haffenden’s side went down by just two wickets against top four opposition as their improved recent performances continued in The Polegrove sunshine.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Bexhill were bowled out for 155 in exactly 40 overs with prolific Horsham slow bowler Michael Munday returning extraordinary figures of 8-38.
Jake Lewis was bowled by Mika Ekstrom for five with the score 18, but Bexhill were going along nicely during a second wicket partnership of 72 between Malcolm Johnson and James Walker.
Johnson looked in superb touch as he picked up from where he left off the previous weekend when he hit 91 in the win over Ansty. The left-handed opener was scoring freely and striking the ball beautifully until playing on to Munday in very unfortunate fashion for 45 from 47 balls.
In his next over, Munday pinned Walker - who was batting with a runner - leg before for a very good 30 and then had Haffenden well caught at first slip for a third ball duck as 90-1 suddenly became 93-4.
Shawn Johnson (9 off 27 balls) and Tim Hambridge (16 off 40 balls) tried to consolidate, although they too fell to Munday, Johnson with the score 104 and then Hambridge 21 runs later.
A further 30 runs were added for the final four wickets, Ethan Guest following up his match-clinching 38 not out of the previous weekend with a valuable 24 which helped earn Bexhill a couple more batting points. Guest was the last man out, again to that man Munday.
Guest (7-2-28-1) then opened the bowling with Jake Lewis and made the initial breakthrough, having Rhys Beckwith caught behind by Malcolm Johnson for seven with the score 18.
Horsham advanced to 66 before Nick Peters claimed the second wicket, trapping Craig Gallagher leg before for 17.
The visitors would still have been strong favourites at that stage, but Peters (20.3-3-63-3) and fellow spinner Josh Beeslee (16-4-47-3) brought Bexhill right back into the match by reducing Horsham from 89-2 to 119-7.
That passage of play included the in-form Beeslee, who took six wickets against Ansty, claiming the key wicket of Michael Thornely for 52 and Guest running out Ekstrom for seven.
Paul Williams stood firm as wickets fell around him, though, and found an able ally in number nine John Aston. The two men stalled Bexhill’s momentum by adding 26 important runs for the eighth wicket until Peters caught Williams off his own bowling for 31.
That left Horsham needing 11 runs and Bexhill two wickets, but it was Horsham who prevailed as Aston (12 not out from 42 balls) and David Croshaw (3 not out) took them across the line after 45.3 overs - five-and-a-half more than Bexhill faced.
Bexhill remain second-from-bottom, although they are now just 19 points behind neighbours Hastings Priory, who occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom.
Sussex Premier League standings (all played 7 matches): 1 East Grinstead 184pts, 2 Cuckfield 168, 3 Roffey 167, 4 Horsham 157, 5 Preston Nomads 141, 6 Middleton 133, 7 Brighton & Hove 112, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 89, 9 BEXHILL 70, 10 Ansty 43.