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Highgate climb out of relegation zone again - but Brondesbury and Hornsey stumble in promotion fight

PUBLISHED: 18:56 23 August 2016 | UPDATED: 18:56 23 August 2016

Sandun Dias hit 85 for Highgate. Pic: Max Flego

Sandun Dias hit 85 for Highgate. Pic: Max Flego

Max Flego Sports Photography

Highgate hauled themselves out of the drop zone again as the weather helped them to secure a narrow victory at Enfield in Division Two of the Middlesex County League.

The Crouch End outfit posted 298-6 off their allotted 45 overs and, after rain fell, Enfield were unable to reach an adjusted target of 246 off 37 overs, falling five runs short despite having seven wickets in hand.

Jake Sharland’s side have been yo-yoing above and below the relegation line in recent weeks and, with two games remaining, they are now one point above Acton after leapfrogging their rivals at the weekend.

However, Highgate’s final two games are against two promotion contenders – Brondesbury and Hornsey – while Acton face seventh-placed Harrow St Mary’s and basement boys Wembley, who have lost 13 of their 16 matches this season.

Asked to bat on Saturday, Highgate captain Sharland and his opening partner Chris Arul started well, reaching 105 without loss.

The skipper departed for 52 and Arul (56) followed – but Will Bowley and Sandun Dias maintained the momentum, adding another 90 together to take the visitors to 220-2.

Bowley was caught on 62 while Dias went on to 85, striking five fours and four sixes and departing just before the end of Highgate’s innings.

Rain then interrupted play and Enfield lost eight overs of their chase, being set a new target of 246.

Opener Jack Plumb led the way, notching an unbeaten 105 including 12 fours and a six. He received able support as well, with Neville Talbot (36), Max Houlahan (31), Kyal Bacchus-Brown (30) and Asad Shah (27 not out) all contributing strongly.

However, with four overs remaining, Enfield still needed 54 runs at around 13 an over. Centurion Plumb was still at the crease and the hosts nearly achieved their goal – but they fell just short at 241-3 and Highgate secured a valuable 10 points in their bid for survival.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Brondesbury and Hornsey both suffered blows in their attempts to earn promotion.

Bron lost a rain-affected match to leaders Finchley and dropped out of the top two, being overtaken by Barnes, who beat Hornsey and left their visitors 13 points off the pace.

Hornsey now appear to have slim hopes of climbing into the runners-up spot in the final two weeks of the campaign – and they take on champions Finchley this Saturday.

Brondesbury, however, are just one point adrift – level with an Indian Gymkhana side who can overtake Barnes themselves when they host them this weekend.

Bron captain Adam Wilson said: “We’re confident that if we play anything like our best cricket in the last two rounds we will bag two wins and give ourselves a fantastic chance of promotion.

“Barnes are obviously in control now, but they will be feeling the pressure as they take on Gymkhana this weekend – and a win for Gymkhana could mean we find ourselves level on points at the end of Saturday, if we win as well.

“If this is the case, and we both win our final game of the season, it’s my understanding we would be promoted based on our head-to-head results, as we’ve beaten them twice this season.

“That would be a crazy way to finish the season but it wouldn’t be a surprise given the competitive nature of the league.”

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