The bottom five teams in the cricket’s Sussex division three west entered the final match of the season knowing any one of them would end up relegated.
For Pagham, one of the sides in danger, it was more essential than ever to make a good start and take some pressure off and this Pagham did by getting Slinfold nine for four after eight overs.
Pagham needed to get ten wickets for safety and this they duly did in the 51st over. Slinfold were all out for 135 with Mike Hales taking four for 33 and Wayne Green three for 42.
This meant Slinfold needed to take eight Pagham wickets for safety, which they failed to do, thanks to Graham Finlayson’s fine 56 which saw Pagham home by four wickets.
Slinfold escaped the drop thanks to Arundel’s one-wicket defeat at Billingshurst which means Arundel drop into the Invitation League next season.
Considering Pagham lost eight of their first nine matches and were bottom for most of the season, their final flourish of three wins out of three meant they secured a great escape finishing three places from relegation.
They are hoping 2012 will not be nerve-wracking – at least not for the same reasons.
Steyning v Bognor
This was an appropriate way to finish a phenomenal season for Bognor.
After last week’s confirmation there’d be no title success this season, the game had nothing riding on it, but there was no evidence of this as Max Ashmore (29) and Rob Willway (107*) dug deep following the early departure of skipper Elliott Clarke (12).
It was a magnificent maiden league century for Willway, who enjoyed a stand of 118 with Luke Seward (55).
With Seward dismissed by Sam Grant (2-60), Willway reached his landmark in the penultimate over and accompanied by Josh Seward (11*), he took Bognor’s total to 253 for five.
A dream start for the Steyning opening pair of Hywel Jones (92) and Chris McPherson (114) saw them cruising to 187 without loss, making it look as if a long season had caught up with Bognor.
But Bognor finally struck through Luke Seward (1-22) who removed McPherson. Willway dismissed Dave Kennett, sparking a Bognor comeback.
The match turned on a marvellous catch from Graham Bush which handed Willway a second wicket and gave Bognor some impetus. The Willway-Bush combination struck again and the game was heading towards a tense finish. Twice more the same scenario occurred, leaving Willway with five wickets. Steyning finished nine short of the total.
Bognor captain Clarke said: “I’m really proud of all my boys - they may be 11 different men but when they’re on the field there’s only one heartbeat. They have almost become like brothers to me – all I can hope is that we build on this.”
Bognor 2nd v Steyning 2nd
Bognor won the toss and chose to field and steady Bognor bowling held Steyning at bay until the introduction of Graham Ball (three for six) sparked a collapse.
Veteran bowler Jon Denby (3-37) assisted and Steyning were all out for 141, Simon Grant top-scoring with 50.
Bognor stuttered to 17 for three but a bright partnership from skipper Ricky McIntosh (44) and Oli Handson (50) pushed them towards the target, but a spectacular collapse from 102 for three to 114 all out saw Steyning win by 27 runs.
A good season saw Bognor seconds finish fourth.