Hartley keep championship dream alive

Scott McKechnie was in fine form for title-chasing Hartley

Scott McKechnie was in fine form for title-chasing Hartley

First published in Other Sport News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , Freelance sports reporter

Hartley and Sevenoaks Vine both recorded victories in the Kent Cricket League Premier Division to ensure the title race will be decided on the final day of the season this weekend.

Hartley (230-9) are just four points behind leaders Sevenoaks with one fixture remaining after they defeated Sandwich Town (157) by 73 runs.

Two early wickets saw Hartley falter at 9-2, but the innings was stabilised by a 110-run partnership between Scott McKechnie (73) and Shane Deitz (47).

Both fell within quick succession although a cameo from Jake Benfield (27), which included a four and three maximums, elevated the hosts to a sufficient total.

The ever-dependable Marnus Labuschagne scored his eighth half century of the season but with only two other batsman reaching double figures, Hartley’s bowling attack proved too strong.

James Hockley (3-22) was particularly impressive, bowling with great control and guile as Sandwich were dismissed.

Sevenoaks Vine (272) remain favourites to take the title, however, after edging closer towards glory with a proficient 52 run win over strugglers Bromley (221-7).

John Bowden (136) led from the front with a fantastic century and received excellent support from Oliver Howick (44).

In reply, Nicholas Bluett (71no) and Miguel Barbosa (40) hit decent scores, although regular wickets prevented any chance of a successful chase.

Bromley’s fate does at least lie in their own hands, as a win over Sandwich Town on Saturday would guarantee safety in the top flight.

If Hartley and Sevenoaks were to slip-up, Lordswood could yet lift the trophy after registering their sixth consecutive win over Bickley Park.

Bickley’s batting woes continued as Lordswood skittled through the hosts’ line-up for just 112.

Lordswood wavered at 2-2, but Shaun Piesley (68) played the knock of the match to guide his side to victory with four wickets to spare.

Bexley (266-9) secured Premier Division Cricket for another season with a 64 run triumph at Canterbury (202-9).

Canterbury won the toss and elected to bowl, only for Matthew Stiddard (131no) to fire Bexley past 260.

Several Canterbury batsmen made starts, but a clinical bowling display (Malik 3-44, Ball 2-27) guaranteed the visitors the crucial win.

Blackheath’s season has plummeted over the past few weeks and this trend continued as they were comprehensively beaten by Beckenham (128-3).

William MacVicar (3-9 in 7.5 overs) and Chris Isles (3-25 in ten overs) produced phenomenal spells to sap all momentum from Blackheath’s innings.

Dipayan Paul (61) batted patiently and skilfully, but played a long hand and Blackheath were dismissed for just 125.

Despite Blackheath’s experienced and adept seam attack, the pursuit proved to be a straightforward task.

Alexander Senn (51no) anchored the innings and, alongside a fluent Raza Ali Dar (34no), saw Beckenham home with seven wickets remaining.

Saturday's fixtures (12pm start): Beckenham v Canterbury, Bexley v Bickley Park, Lordswood v Hartley, Sandwich Town v Bromley, Sevenoaks Vine v Blackheath.

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