Berkswell 75ao (4 pts) lost to Kenilworth Wardens 84ao (24 pts)
Berkswell lost their place at the top of the Birmingham Premier League First Division after losing a thrilling close encounter with title-chasing rivals Kenilworth Wardens by nine runs.
The visitors to Meeting House Lane were invited to bat and suffered an early setback when Dan Vernon was run out for a duck off the second ball.
A second wicket partnership of 16 between Martin Donald and Scott Stenning came to an end when Donald (14) was bowled by former Leicestershire seamer Dave Brignull in the fifth over and an over later Chris Cheslin had Stenning (2) caught at slip by Dominic Ostler to leave the Wardens three down for only 16 runs.
The fourth wicket fell in the 10th over, Richard Bush (7) edging behind to Phil Neale and giving Cheslin (2-46) his second wicket.
Berkswell then claimed two wickets in the 11th over as Brignull had Keith Bell (4) caught at slip by Ostler and then bowled Phil Dickson for a first ball duck, leaving the visitors on 29 for six.
Two overs later the seventh wicket fell when Andrew Whitehall (2) offered another catch to wicketkeeper Phil Neale with the score on 32.
And when James Jordan (4) gave Neale his third catch behind the eighth wicket had fallen for the addition of only ten runs.
Another twelve runs were added in eight balls between Dan Wood and Alistair Wilkinson before the latter was bowled by Brignull for three.
Wood (38) then proceeded to put bat to ball and hit a series of fours moving the total on to 84 before he became Brignull’s seventh victim when he edged behind to give Neale his fourth catch, Brignull ending up with seven for 37 off fourteen overs.
The Berkswell reply started in an encouraging way with openers James and Phil Neale moving the score on to 17 before James (14) was bowled by Wilkinson in the fifth over.
An over later Chris Cheslin (0) fell lbw to Jordan, and then in the seventh over Phil Neale (3) edged to slip where Jordan took the catch.
The loss of Mohammed Akhlaq for just one, bowled by Jordan in the 10th over, and Khizer Zaman (2) bowled by the same player in the 12th increased the pressure on skipper Dominic Ostler to guide the home side through to victory.
But when Ostler (6), advancing down the wicket, edged the ball to Jordan at slip off Wood and then Babar Khan (0) was caught behind by Bush two balls later Berkswell were struggling at 35 for seven in the 13th over.
Needing to dig deep to keep the Meeting House Lane side in with a shout of a miraculous win, Adil Khan and Chris Metters held the Wardens at bay for another three overs before Wood found a way through Metters’ defence – bowling the Warwickshire spinner for three.
At 41 for eight it looked as though the end of the innings would soon arrive, but Khan and Brignull managed to keep a degree of hope of a win by adding 25 runs for the ninth wicket in nine overs until Brignull (13) was caught behind off Wood.
Last man Sultan Khan made his way to the middle and in partnership with Adil continued to push Berkswell nearer the victory target.
However, having reduced the deficit to single figures Adil (13) was unlucky to be run out when finding himself stranded having backed up too far – leaving Berkswell agonisingly nine runs short.
A frustrated Osler said: “To lose is obviously a disappointment especially as we bowled and fielded so well and gave ourselves such a great chance to extend our lead at the top.
“But, although we almost scraped home, our batting let us down and our response to the situation we were in left a lot to be desired.
“However, we must put this result behind us and get ourselves back to winning ways against Bromsgrove at home on Saturday.”