Eastbourne sealed Hastings Priory Cricket Club’s relegation from the Sussex Premier League for the first time.
A scenario which has seemed likely since the middle of the season was confirmed by a narrow defeat in a dramatic low-scoring local derby at Eastbourne yesterday (Saturday).
Priory elected to bat on winning the toss, but were all out for just 77 in 32.1 overs with Eastbourne opener Devang Patel returning superb bowling figures of 7-33 from 16 overs.
With no Harry Finch at the top of the order this week, Priory soon found themselves 9-2. Away captain George Campbell made 18 until being fourth man out with the score 39 and two more wickets down eight runs later. Jed O’Brien became only the second Priory batsman to reach double figures before being last man out for 16 to Jacob Smith. Ben Twine claimed the other two wickets.
Sussex professional Ben Brown scored all of Eastbourne’s first 29 runs in reply off just 21 balls. But once he was trapped LBW by Finn Hulbert, Priory started to claw their way back into it.
Hulbert (2-17 off five overs) struck again and John Morgan (3-35 off 12) took a wicket to make it 37-3 before Elliot Hooper (3-25 off 9.3) bagged two in quick succession to leave Eastbourne 50-5.
Morgan trapped another Sussex player, Callum Jackson, LBW for 16 to make it 64-6 and that became 68-8 after Hooper and Morgan struck again.
But Eastbourne’s ninth wicket pair scored the remaining 10 runs, however, as they scraped home by two wickets. Priory could still finish off the bottom of the table if they pick up 13 points more than second-bottom Three Bridges - who are also down - in the final round of matches next weekend.
Current standings (all played 18 matches): 1 Roffey 375pts, 2 Preston Nomads 338, 3 East Grinstead 327, 4 Horsham 316, 5 Eastbourne 316, 6 Brighton & Hove 292, 7 Cuckfield 263, 8 Bexhill 245, 9 Three Bridges 200, 10 Hastings Priory 188.
The Seconds completed the double for Eastbounrne on Saturday when they recorded a comfortable seven-wicket win against their Hastings counterparts at Horntye.
The hosts won the toss and elected to bat - beginning well enough thorough Joe Billings (32) and Jack Stapley (31).
But gradually the Eastbourne bowlers began to exert pressure and wickets started to tumble.
Good fielding, including a couple of runs out help Joe Barnett (4-14) and Ilhamuden Muhammadi (3-32) take control and Hastings eventually struggled through to 135 all out in 47 overs.
Eastbourne openers Jon Purdey (47 not) and James Walker (46) ensured there were no early problems for the visitors - although Adam Barton nuipped in with three wickets before Purdy and Shaun Perkinson (23 not) saw their side through to a seven--wicket win in just 30 overs.