Leighton Buzzard drop into relegation zone

Gareth Benger
Gareth Benger

Leighton Buzzard slipped back into the Division 2 relegation zone after an eighth defeat in 11 games on Saturday, losing out to Aston Rowant.

A shock victory for fellow relegation scrappers Horspath 2nds over leaders Banbury 2nds saw them leap-frog Leighton in the standings, which leaves the Bell Close side ninth, eight points adrift of Challow & Childrey.

Leighton Buzzard vs Aston Rowant

Leighton Buzzard vs Aston Rowant

Leighton have a chance to reverse their slump in form when they take on bottom club Minster Lovell at home next week.

Despite a fine 5-39 from Antony Francis, it was Leighton’s batting performance which ultimately let them down, as they struggled to score just 117 in a relatively low run-chase.

After losing the toss, Aston Rowant opted to bat first on Saturday, and it appeared to be a wise move.

Openers Tim Morgan and Leo Bethell got their feet quickly under the table against Leighton’s attack as the pair put on 86 for the opening stand.

Phil Whatmore made the breakthrough, removing Bethell for 54, and from there, wickets began to tumble as Francis ran riot through the middle order.

Not only was Francis’ bowling an issue, Aston Rowant’s running was proving to be a problem for them too as they suffered three run-outs over the course of their innings.

When Lee Selfe took care of Morgan for 60, the collapse was in full swing, as the visitors went from 120-3 to 161 all out.

Francis removed Max Mortimer (14), Ben Knowler (17) Alex Barras (3), Tom Brine (1) and Matthew Luxford (1) en route to his fifer, while he was also responsible for one of the run-outs.

Chasing 162 to win though, Leighton could not have made a worse start. Opener Richard Raine lasted eight balls before losing his wicket for a duck, while Phil Whatmore also made just five balls before returning to the pavilion, similarly failing to trouble the scorer, with his side 9-2.

A minor recovery was performed as Tom Light began to swing out, but with Mark Burfoot falling for 4 before Light fell for 41, Town were 49-4. Francis could not perform the same miracles with the bat as he did with the ball, falling for 2, with Alfie Rushton (4) not far behind, leaving Leighton toiling on 54-6. Bertie Barrett’s 1 did little to ease things.

With hope dwindling, Gareth Benger (28) and Jack Kempster (10), batting at eight and nine, put on 30 for the eighth wicket, but both were out before Leighton reached 100. Lee Selfe and Sam Roberts went swinging for the final wicket, with the former eventually taken for 8 as Leighton were reduced for just 117.

The result sees them drop into the bottom two ahead of their clash with bottom club Minster Lovell next Saturday.

It was a similarly drab story for Leighton Buzzard 2nds in Division 5, as they were crushed by 95 runs by Aston Rowant 3rds.

Already firmly bottom of the table, Leighton needed a good victory to get them back into contention in the division.

A good bowling performance saw them remove the home side for 201. Austin Jones (2-25) and Matthew Gurney (2-23) made a decent fist of things early on with Aston Rowant slumping to 43-4.

However, they mounted a comeback in the middle order, thanks to 55 from Jamie Revill and 44 from Tim Foster, getting Aston Rowant back on track again.

The fall of Foster though on 162-7 would quickly see the innings come to a halt as Andy Smith mopped up the tail. Smith ended with fine figures of 4-47 as the home side were 201 all out.

That is where the good news ended though, as Leighton were skittled for just 104

Leigh Lewis took 4-27 for the home side, while Forster would also take 3-15 as just three Leighton batsmen would reach double figures.

They just edged past the 100 mark before being back in the pavilion for 104 for a 97 run loss.

They take on Bledlow Ridge away next Saturday.