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Title race goes to the wire after North Mid defeat

PUBLISHED: 17:12 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:18 22 July 2010

THE DIVISION Two promotion battle will go to the wire after North Middlesex suffered what could be a pivotal defeat at the hands of title rivals Richmond on Saturday. Needing to avoid defeat to seal promotion, North Mid collapsed to an 80-run defeat and n

THE DIVISION Two promotion battle will go to the wire after North Middlesex suffered what could be a pivotal defeat at the hands of title rivals Richmond on Saturday.

Needing to avoid defeat to seal promotion, North Mid collapsed to an 80-run defeat and now need to win their final game of the season this Saturday to go up.

But with in-form Twickenham the visitors to Park Road, Richmond and Shepherd's Bush now seem to be the favourites to reach the Premier Division on what should be a drama-drenched final day.

Disappointed North Mid skipper Brad Sculley admitted the occasion had probably got to his players, but knows their destiny is still in their own hands this weekend.

"I think if we'd just stuck to our natural game and played the match on its merits we'd have won it," said Sculley.

"We bowled and fielded brilliantly to get them out for 181 and realistically if we bat out the overs from there we win the game.

"But a few of us started to think about just avoiding defeat and we were occupying the crease without scoring any runs, and to be fair to Richmond they are a good side and made us pay for that."

Having won the toss, Sculley put the home side into bat and new paceman James Nightingale again showed his class, taking three wickets including the prize scalp of Middlesex batsman Nick Compton.

Spinner Tarun Nethula then worked his way through the middle-order, and two wickets for Nick Brand saw the hosts bowled out for 181 from just 45.3 overs.

That gave North Mid plenty of time to get the runs but their nerve failed them when they needed it most, with only Brand (22) making a score worthy of note.

Even a late rearguard action could have saved the day and denied Richmond the 10 points they needed to stay in contention, but it was not to be and Sculley conceded that the defeat was a huge blow for his side.

"We just didn't perform with the bat and it is not going to be easy for us now, we play Twickenham and they are on fire at the moment.

"But it's in our hands going into the last game and that's all we need to think about. If we win, we go up and we know we are capable of doing that.

"We will prepare in the right way and at least we know exactly what we have to do now unlike the last couple of games. I am pretty sure Richmond will beat Barnes so we have to win, simple as that.


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