It's Roffey's turn to be Sussex Premier top dogs - as Horsham slip up

A maximum 30-point win at home to Bognor enabled Roffey – now with 269 points - to leap-frog defeated Horsham into top spot in the Sussex Premier League.

They are level-pegging with tight finish specialists and early frontrunners East Grinstead.

Roffey skipper Matt Davies said: “It was a good win for us at the Regis Oval, and after a tough month with the ball it was great to see Harnoop Kalsi get a 5 wicket haul. And, Mike Norris was excellent, too, coming back into the team in good form. We just want to keep winning to keep the outcome of the campaign in our own hands, not having to rely on results elsewhere.”

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Early season Bognor knocked Roffey out of the Sussex T20 Cup at the first round stage, but, on Saturday, Roffey exacted revenge by completing a Premiership double over the seasiders, bowling them out for a wholly inadequate 159 at home, despite missing opening bowler James Pearce - still injured - and Rohit Jagota recovering from a tonsil operation.

Mike Norris of Roffey faces the Bognor bowling / Picture: Derek Martin Photography

Inserted, Bognor lost an early wicket, but Captain Ryan Maskell, along with Taylor Jaycocks, Joe Ashmore and Nick Stobart all made steady starts. But, none continued beyond their twenties, with George Fleming dismissing the first three in the Bognor line up. Will Fenwick chipped in with two scalps, and, after bowling Stobart, Kalsi accounted four of the last five batsmen to finish with 5-31.

On Roffey’s high-scoring ground, particularly with the current hard, dry outfield, a target of 160 was never likely to be enough, especially as Roffey had 63 overs at their disposal, not putting them under any real pressure. Jamie Woolnough did take two wickets, but Norris, promoted to opening on his return to the first team on his comeback from injury, produced a vintage unbeaten and fast 93, including 17 fours and a six.

Norris was ably supported by Davies, whose 38 not out combined to get Roffey over the line with in excess of 31 overs still available, star bowler Harnoop Kalsi telling us: “It was finally nice to cross that threshold into 5 wickets – something that I’ve been striving at for quite a while. There was some turn if you bowled in the right areas, but their spinners bowled too short and we made the run chase look easy.”

Roffey have a busy weekend approaching - on Saturday they visit Eastbourne, whose two wins from 11 starts leave them precariously hovering just above Brighton and current wooden spoonists Hastings in the relegation zone. Then, on Sunday Roffey travel to Earlswood, London SW18 to take on Spencer in the Quarter Final of the Bertie Joel Trophy, Davies saying: “Lots of travelling, but it’ll be good and we’re all looking forward to it.”

HORSHAM THIRD AFTER LOSING AT MIDDLETON

Horsham forfeited top spot to Roffey, slipping to third after losing at Middleton, where their respectable total was overtaken with ease by the hosts, who had 61 overs to get the runs, having bowled Horsham out short of their allocation.

Electing to bat, Horsham soon lost Tom Johnson, but Will Beer (35) and Joe Willis (45) repaired the damage with a 72 run second wicket stand, only for three quick wickets to leave them on 97-4. Ollie Haines coming in at five then batted very enterprisingly, taking Horsham to 253 all out, despite only Sam Bell and Paul Williams, with 16 and 25 respectively, subsequently managing to get into double figures, Middleton whittling away the middle and lower order with Sean Heather and Ajit Sambhi taking three wickets apiece.

With 10 fours and 4 sixes, 17 year old Haines richly deserved a century, but cricket can be a cruel game and he was last man out for 99.

When Middleton replied, much depended on whether Horsham could dismiss the two danger men – evergreen skipper Heather and prolific overseas player Mahesh Rawat, both of whom had punished Horsham in the past, as they have done to most other clubs. Ben Lister dismissed Heather cheaply, and Haines accounted for the other opener, Harry Hovey.

But, that was almost as good as it got: at the half way point of the run chase Middleton still had more than 38 overs at their disposal, wicketkeeper Mason Robinson in company with Rawat pressing on to amass 188 for the third wicket. Nick Oxley eventually removed Robinson – for 91 – but Rawat’s unbeaten 104 at better than a run a ball enabled Middleton to romp home by 7 wickets with more than 23 overs to spare.

Disappointed Horsham captain Nick Oxley told the County Times: “We got ourselves into good positions, but didn’t capitalise. We might have – should have - capped 300 and then it could have been a different game, but our shot selection gifted them some wickets. The pitch was very dry and we thought it might break up and spin, but it remained incredibly flat.”

Ollie Haines added: “Obviously it was gutting to fall 1 short of a 100, but I would have taken 99 coming into the match. I’ve been hitting them nicely recently, so it was good to transform that to runs on the pitch. I’m beginning to feel more confident with my bowling and am very much enjoying the opportunity to get some overs in as well as contributing with the bat.”

On Saturday Horsham return home to play reigning champions, but currently seventh-placed, Preston Nomads, who were well-beaten by Three Bridges last Saturday after being bowled out for 119.