STRATFORD will be looking to halt a three-match losing streak when they head to Rugby in the Warwickshire League Premier Division on Saturday.
The Panthers’ title challenge stuttered after a dramatic defeat to second-placed Bedworth at Swans Nest Lane last weekend as the visitors recovered from 65-9 to record a one-wicket victory.
The result leaves fourth-placed Stratford 61 points behind pace-setters Walmley and 58 behind Bedworth.
Although Stratford’s batsmen struggled for the third week in a row as they were dismissed for 109, Archie Walker (3-27), Ben Pigott (2-8 off eight overs) and James Urquhart (2-10 off ten overs) soon had the Bedworth reply in all sorts of trouble.
Only two of the top eight Bedworth batsmen – Ryan Parnell (15) and Kyle Taylor (17) – got into double figures as the hosts cranked up the pressure.
When Lewis Noon fell for a 24-ball duck to Pigott it was 65-9, but No 9 batsman Lewis Peacock produced a match-winning innings of 54 not out.
Last man Ashley Cutts survived 13 balls without scoring while Noon’s half-century came off 76 balls, with five fours and one six, as he steered Bedworth home in the 41st over.
After winning the toss, Stratford had opted to bat and made a steady start to get to 23 before Adrian Witts departed for six.
But the hosts then stumbled to 37-4 after Noon (3-28) took three wickets and also ran out Ed Cunynghame.
Alex Marney and top-scorer Gareth Langman (28) rallied the innings but Peacock (3-24) and Cutts (2-20) again put Bedworth in charge.
Langman took the score into three figures but the final four Stratford wickets fell for the addition of just seven runs as they were dismissed in the 41st over.
Stratford 2nds also came out on the wrong side of a thrilling finale as they lost by five wickets to their Bedworth counterparts at Miners Welfare Park in Division Four.
Having been put into bat, Stratford reached 151 all out in their 50 overs, led principally by opener Finley Hatch and No 8 batsman Richard Smith, who both hit 35. Dale Mellor (3-46) was the chief wicket-taker.
Jamie Parnell then produced the match-winning innings for Bedworth with 56 not out and joined skipper Neil Jones (13no) to get to their target off the final ball of the match. Skipper Harry Abell took 2-27 for Stratford.
The 2nds are at home to Rugby on Saturday.
Stratford Bards endured a tough day with bat and ball as they suffered a 262-run hammering at Great Alne in Cotswold Hills League Division Four.
Alne opener Rob Stanley smacked a glorious 132 off 96 balls, blitzing 15 fours and three sixes, as his side reached 303-2 off 40 overs.
Stanley and skipper Jack Lawrence (86 off 83) put on 193 for the first wicket and then Steve Temple and Stanley shared a stand of 60 for the second.
The Bards’ reply began disastrously as they were reduced to 12-4 and they were all out for 41 in 29 overs. Extras provided the highest contribution to the scorecard, while opener Thadius Kaminski-Gaze battled gamely, scoring four off 61 balls.
Richard Brereton (4-17), Luke Brereton (3-5) and Simon Chester (3-2) were the key bowlers.
The Bards entertain Exhall & Wixford at Alscot Park on Saturday.