Horsham happy to top Sussex Premier, but Roffey are hot on heels

Delighted Horsham CC skipper Nick Oxley praised his team for securing top spot in the Sussex Premier but warned: Tough games keep coming

Horsham beat Hastings at home to go top, a point clear of Roffey, who also won, with East Grinstead sliding to third – two points behind Horsham – with a draw at Bognor

It was a mighty close game at Cricketfield Road, where Horsham had Hastings on the ropes at 125-6, only for the seasiders to recover, more than doubling their score.

Horsham CC skipper Nick Oxley

Horsham were seemingly cruising at 234-4 before a flurry of late wickets necessitated last-ditch heroics to pull off a nervy win with one ball to spare. Championships can hinge on tight games like this.

Oxley told us: “I’m surprised that Hastings are bottom, they aren’t that easy to beat.

"It’s great to be top, but we’ve got another tough game on Saturday, at Middleton, where Sean Heather and Mahesh Rawat are top players.

In-form Roffey batsman Theo Rivers

"We should have our school and university players available, though, which might create a few selection headaches.”

Since beating Horsham in the opening week of the season Hastings have had close encounters with each of the top three clubs. And, after opting to bat they again proved serious opponents.

Following a first wicket stand of 39, Ben Williams dismissed both openers, and when Will Beer grabbed the next two scalps, Hastings were 84-4. Then a Tom Johnson run out and a wicket for skipper Nick Oxley launched Horsham into the lower order, despite 75 from Mitch English.

But, the tail wagged, with 52 from Ryan Hoadley and twenties from Harvey Faulkner and Adam Barton, Horsham finally bowling out Hastings for 260, two balls short of their 58-over allocation.

Replying, Johnson (67) and Beer (73) got Horsham off to an excellent start, with a partnership of 111. Ollie Haines made 38, but while three other batsmen got into double figures, with Faulkner on his way to a six wicket haul, Hastings kept chipping away, and with two overs left, Horsham were seven down needing nine.

The penultimate over was a wicket maiden, but, with 9 still required, Ben Lister hit a four off the first ball of the final over, and got the other five required with a ball to spare.

Brighton v Roffey - Sussex Premier

After electing to bat at the Nevill Sports Ground, Roffey CC racked up the highest Sussex Premier League score of the day – 281 – in double quick time.

They declared five down to give themselves 13 extra overs to bowl out Brighton, which they did, well within the allowance.

The maximum points win places Roffey just one point behind new leaders Horsham.

At 121-1 with Theo Rivers going well, Roffey were well-placed to set a demanding challenge with a consistent batting team effort.

Rohit Jagota’s 31 was followed by Sajeer Nizam’s 40 , and a typically blistering 34-ball 56 from Usman Khan, but it was Rivers’ unbeaten 120 at just under a run a ball around which the innings was based, the opener having previously scored 54 against Middleton, 70 versus Bognor and taken 111 off Preston Nomads.

Chasing an unlikely 282 to win, Brighton began well, putting on 62 for the first wicket.

But once Jas Bassan and Ben Whelpton had dismissed openers James Degg and Matthew Whippey for 54 and 32, respectively it became a procession, with Bassan scything through the opposition to finish with 8-49 from 21 overs.

Only Fergus Guppy and Chris Mates provided any real late resistance – for 92 balls between them - until Bassan accounted for both of them, with Brighton staggering to crushing defeat at 145 all out.

Roffey skipper Matt Davies said: “Theo batted superbly, enabling us to get a big score quickly so that we could declare.

"Then Brighton started well, but the pitch was very dry, and the longer the game went on the more helpful it was for our spinners, and Jas bowled beautifully.

"We’re obviously in contention but there’s still a long way to go, so we just want to stay level-headed.

"We’ve got Bognor at home on Saturday and we know they’re a good side.”

Rivers added: “It was turning, but you got value for your shots and it was great to get another ton and another win.

"I’m going to keep working hard, because I want another two hundreds to make it my best season!”

Bassan was thrilled with his eight wickets, saying: “I’ve had a seven-wicket spell, but that was my first eight-for. I had a long bowl and got into a nice rhythm.”