Hornsey can't cross the finishing line
HORNSEY, Harrow Town and Kenton are preparing for a thrilling final fortnight after the Division Three promotion race took another twist at the weekend. Leaders Hornsey have been one game from promotion for two weeks...
HORNSEY, Harrow Town and Kenton are preparing for a thrilling final fortnight after the Division Three promotion race took another twist at the weekend.
Leaders Hornsey have been one game from promotion for two weeks, and they would have sealed an early passage to Division Two if they had eclipsed third-placed Kenton's points haul on Saturday.
The champagne was on ice as Hornsey hosted lowly seventh-placed Ickenham, while Kenton faced a much tougher prospect with their visit to fourth-placed Barnes.
However, the form guide went out of the window as Chetan Patel's Hornsey slipped up badly, taking just one point from a desperate losing draw while Kenton secured a priceless victory.
Grippingly, that leaves the top three separated by just 10 points, with the top two winning Division Two status. And, in a cruel twist of fate, table toppers Hornsey face both of their nearest pursuers in the final two weeks of the season, starting with a visit to Kenton this Saturday.
Victory for the Tivoli Road outfit will seal promotion at the third time of asking, but Saturday's result was a real kick in the teeth.
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Ickenham won the toss and chose to bat on a lightning-quick outfield and good track, but two early wickets from Martin Tucker (2-55) put Hornsey in the ascendancy.
A third-wicket stand of 75 from Gordon Summerfield (38) and John Alderson (68) restored the balance but Ian Gregory (5-67) picked up three wickets in a row, leaving Ickenham on 144-5.
Paul Sims (13) was the next to go as Garfield Struthers took his second catch of the day with a brilliant one-handed effort off the bowling of Ollie Yew (1-29) but, while the wickets came, so did the runs.
J Taylor (19) and D Waller (16) kept the scoreboard ticking over and, although the home side were still happy to have their visitors at 206-9, Ickenham's final pair of Salman Siddiq (7 not out) and Elliott Woods (22) added a further 32 runs.
"Their last-wicket partnership was the heartbreaker," admitted Ian Gregory. "All of a sudden our bowlers could not bowl straight against some poor batters. If we were chasing what should have been 210 off around 54 overs then it was a different game, but to chase five an over from the word go just put that extra pressure on."
In fact the target of 238 proved too much, despite openers Joel Gregory (28) and Deepesh Makwana (14) racing to 29, while no3 Wes Koskela made 25.
However, Hornsey quickly slumped from 64-1 to 97-5 as Patel (4) and Struthers (3) failed to stick around and, while Jack Goldberg (19) and Paul Plumbly (23) consolidated the innings and kept the run-rate up, their dismissals left the hosts in real trouble at 134-7.
Alex Scrini (18) and Tucker (30) added a valuable 40 for the eighth wicket and Hornsey needed 41 off the final six overs to grab the four-point winning draw.
Ian Gregory (23no) continued the scoring with Tucker until the latter was trapped in front by V Patel (4-49), and eventually Hornsey needed eight off the last two balls.
Gregory hit a four off the penultimate delivery but, with the entire field hugging the boundary for the final ball, could only score a single with his last stroke, leaving Hornsey to contemplate two decisive top-of-the table clashes.