NEITHER Middleton nor Chichester will be playing in division two of the Sussex League next season – but that’s a cause for celebration only for one.
If ever a match brought home the contrasting fortunes of two sides, it was this one. It ended in an easy Middleton victory that earned them promotion – and secured Chichester’s relegation.
Middleton will be in the Premier next year, Chichester in division three. Yet it wasn’t too many seasons ago the opposite was the case.
Middleton won the toss and Chichester were asked to bat, and opening bowlers JamieThompson (4-37) and Brandon Hanley (2-26) made early inroads, bowling a line and length that suited the conditions perfectly and reduced the visitors to 21 for four.
Ben Woodruff (28) top-scored for Chichester and Simon Hasted (13) offered some resistance, but both fell in the same over to leave Priory 62 for six.
Dan Joseph (13 not out) was the only other batsman to reach double figures as Chichester’s final four wickets fell for just two runs. Chichester were bowled out for 81 in just 26 overs.
The opening bowlers were well supported by spinner James Rufey, who finished with impressive figures of three for three off four overs.
In reply, Middleton took only 15 overs to score the required 82 to win, losing Rob Willway (8) and Jamie Thomspon (6), both falling victim to Chichester captain Matt Geffen, who finished with match figures of two for 28.
Geffen had looked dangerous for the visitors and Middleton could have been nought for two as Geffen enduced edges from both openers, but the ball fell agonisingly short of the slips.
Sean Heather (36) and Ben Hansford (26) saw Middleton home to an emphatic eight-wicket victory.
Middleton took the maximum 30 points from the game to ensure that regardless of results this Saturday, they will be playing in the top tier next season.
Their captain Brandon Hanley said: “This is a really proud moment for Middleton Cricket Club.
“It has taken years of graft both on and off the pitch by so many people all deserving to relish this special time.
“For many years Middleton were a big player in county Premier League cricket and I hope this is the start of another golden era for a small village with big ambitions.”
Middleton finish the campaign on Saturday at Goring needing 12 points to win the division-two title.
This defeat and other results condemned Chichester to their second relegation in two seasons. The men from Priory Park will be playing in the third division of the Sussex League next year.
With nothing but pride left to play for, Chichester finish their campaign with a home match against third-placed Worthing.