Half centuries from Neil Robinson and Simon Brown not enough for victory
Rainhill 207-8 (Neil Robinson 60, Simon Brown 54*; Alex Parr 3-45)
Oxton 208-8 (Alex Parr 74, Mike Baker 54*; Stevie Pennington 4-31)
Oxton (20 pts) beat Rainhill (4 pts) by 2 wickets
Rainhill's 3rd team lost to runaway league leaders Oxton yesterday, but their performance was a creditable one and the hosts had to be at their best to extend their winning run to seven games.
Rainhill opener Jeff Fitzhenry and Neil Robinson, put into bat by Oxton, defied the home side's confident attack bowlers and put on 76 for the first wicket. Fitzhenry's resistance was finally broken when he was bowled by Alex Parr. A short while later Panchu Xavier was run out for 6, and Robinson himself was out, caught by Gunasekeran Kumar, for 60 with the score on 100.
With the big-hitting Robinson gone, Simon Brown and Vinny Varghese stepped up and showed their own batting quality in a fourth wicket stand worth 49. Varghese was bowled by Mike Baker having made 24 after which Brown shared a valuable partnership with Tony Wright. Further wickets fell but Brown remained defiant and, at the close of Rainhill's innings, was unbeaten on 54.
Rainhill's total of 207 for 8 posed some challenges for Oxton, especially when Stevie Pennington (pictured) dismissed opener Jamie Price for 7. Price's replacement at the crease, Oliver Mitchell, was stumped by Brown off Steve Bell's bowling for just 4. Oxten rallied, guided by Alex Parr and Sanjeev Rath, and took the score beyond 100. Rath became Bell's second victim of the day and then, shortly afterwards, Parr became his third when he played into the hands of Panchu Xavier. Parr had contributed 74, an impressive knock in any circumstances but particularly against determined and disciplined bowling.
Following the loss of Parr's wicket Oxton's middle order struggled and Pennington took full advantage as he dismissed three key batsmen. Firstly, Tom Wood was caught and bowled for 3. Secondly, Pennington bowled Ani Anijeet for 1 and then, finally, Dereck Horrocks was also out for 1 when he played around a delivery that hit his pads. The youngster had turned the game around and suddenly - with Oxton on 158 for 7 - Rainhill were in with a great chance of winning the match.
However, in spite of Pennington's heroics, Oxton's Mike Baker and Gunasekeran Kumar were able to answer the questions posed by Rainhill's bowling and successfully chased down the target of 208. Baker hit an unbeaten 54 while Kumar finished on 25 not out. Oxton may have been the stronger side over the course of the afternoon but they knew they had been in a game.