Leighton Buzzard’s woes in Division 2 continued on Saturday with a two-wicket defeat to high-flying Wolverton.
Their fifth defeat in a row sees Leighton remain second from bottom of the division, but are just 58 points from third spot with seven games to go.
Travelling to Wolverton, who started the day in third, Leighton won the toss and elected to bat, but they were quickly two down.
Phil Whatmore lasted just nine run-less balls before he was taken out by Haroon Malik with the scoreboard on 6, and Matthew Gurney was then removed for 1 by Idrees Butt, leaving Leighton 12-2. Butt and Malik would prove to be the thorns in Leighton’s side.
While Tom Light held up one end, Anthony Francis (10) was shortly back into the pavilion as Leighton fell to 34-3.
And when Light fell for 34, the visitors were 57-4 and staring at an early trip home. Dan Scott and Mark Burfoot though would get the game back on track.
The pair put on a vital, innings-saving partnership of 110 to get Leighton back on course.
Scott hit 65 from 102 balls, made up of nine fours and a six, while Burfoot hit 64 from 88 balls, also with nine fours, as the pair dragged the visitors to 167-5. Malik and Butt though would rattle through the final five wickets for just 14 runs.
Butt finished with figures of 4-57, while Malik took 5-66, with only Gareth Benger (11) reaching double figures in the tail end as Leighton were all out for 221.
But the visitors made the perfect start in reply when Jack Kempster trapped Sean Potter LBW for a golden duck.
But bringing Ahmed Mujtaba to the crease, he formed a match-winning partnership with opener Atif Akhlaq.
Akhlaq would fall agonisingly short of his century, eventually toppled for 99 from 82 balls by Benger with the score on 161.
Mujtaba would join him back in the pavilion for 49 when Pope removed him with Wolverton on 170-3.
But with just 52 required, it looked like the writing was on the wall, but wickets would quickly topple, leaving Leighton with an outside chance of victory.
Aky Hussain (3), Murtaza Arif (0), Moiz Hussein (1) and Butt (6) all fell in quick succession, and with Wolverton on 196-8, Leighton were in line for an unlikely win.
But Malik’s unbeaten 18 coming from just 15 balls was a vital knock for the home side, seeing them to 222-8. Next week, Leighton host Cropredy.
In Division 5, Leighton 2nds’ struggles also continued as they lost by just one wicket to Dinton 2nds to remain bottom of the pile.
James Raine (42) and Riaan Krynauw (36) top scored for the home side as they reached 226 as Jawad Ali and Dom O’Sullivan took three wickets apiece.
Dinton’s reply was swift, but wickets fell regularly. Eliot Lloyd hit 55, while Muhaib Ur Rehman added an unbeaten 40.
Krynauw took 3-42 as Leighton came up just one wicket shy, with Dinton sealing victory on 229-9.
Leighton, however, picked up 14 bonus points for their efforts, and they are now just nine points adrift of Chearsley above.
Next week, Leighton 2nds travel to Division 5 leaders Cropredy 2nds.