Middleton miss out as Bexhill strengthen promotion hopes

Middleton started the second half of their Sussex League division two season with a thriller away to promotion candidates Bexhill which ended in a narrow defeat.

After winning the toss, Middleton chose to bat on what looked like a batsmen’s paradise. The early loss of Hansford bought Willway (93) to the crease and he and opener Burrows (108) helped themselves to a partnership of 159 playing risk-free cricket.

Burrows bought up his maiden first XI league ton with the help of 18 boundaries. Wickets tumbled towards the latter stages of Middleton’s innings as the middle order looked to press on. This enabled the visitors to finished on 245 for six.

Bexhill overseas player Andrew Williams was the pick of the bowlers finishing with 5-53.

Middleton knew they had real chance to send a message to the rest of the league but Bexhill had scored 89 before Hanley took the first wicket, removing Bexhill captain and top run-scorer Malcolm Johnson.

Wickets continued to fall and, at 165 for five, the game was nicely poised for a tense finish. Willway (5-93) put behind him his disappointment of narrowly missing out on a first Middleton hundred by producing a great spell of bowling which put pressure on the Bexhill batsmen.

Bexhill wicketkeeper Jack Richardson smashed 66 from 38 balls, but when he fell on 236 for nine, the home side could only hope their last two batsmen could finish the job.

The last over provided entertainment of the highest quality - with only one wicket needed by Middleton or nine runs to win for Bexhill, it was certainly a nail-biter. But three singles and a six over point were enough to complete a compelling victory for Bexhill.

Middleton skipper Brandon Hanley said: “It’s another match in which we couldn’t quite get over the line. Consistent execution is what we’re looking for - if this is found there is no doubt we will start picking up more wins.”