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Promotion battle goes to final day

By Steve Box | Cricket | Published:

Bridgnorth, Shifnal and Oswestry head into the final day of the Birmingham League season in a three-way battle for promotion from Division One.

Bridgnorth’s first team.

Victory over Shifnal last weekend would have seen Bridgnorth promoted to the Premier Division for the first time in the club’s history.

Bad weather got in the way that day, but they head to Brockhampton as clear favourites to finish second behind Kidderminster.

Sam Whitney’s side sit 12 points clear of Shifnal and 16 ahead of Oswestry.

Different

But Whitney is wary of going to a team who need a win to stay above rock bottom Wellington and avoid the drop.

“I’d much rather be playing a team in the middle of the table with nothing to gain,” admitted Whitney. “They know if they win and finish second bottom they’ve got a good chance of staying up with C&R Hawks not able to be promoted.

“When Daryl Mitchell plays for them they are a different team, a bit like when Charlie Morris plays for us.

“Neither can play tomorrow (with Worcestershire in T20 finals day action) so we have to get on with it.”

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Simon Gregory and Tom Weaver are also missing through work commitments, meaning call-ups from the seconds for Mark McPherson-Lees, Matt Martin and Ben Lees.

“It’s unfortunate to be without three players considering the enormity of the game,” added Whitney.

“But the seconds haven’t lost a game this season so the players coming in are full of confidence and have the winning habit.

“Mark has been in and out of the side this season but he’s someone I can always rely on. He never gives his wicket away.

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“It’s nice to have two experienced players coming in for a big game like this, but Ben is a confident lad too and he’s matured a lot this year, so I’ve no worries on him coming in.”

For Shifnal there was frustration last weekend that the opportunity to close the gap on Bridgnorth was denied them by rain.

Now they have to beat Barnards Green at home tomorrow and hope for help from elsewhere.

“It’s out of our hands but we’re going to do all we can to win our game and give ourselves a chance,” said captain Chris Murrall.

“All the pressure is on Bridgnorth. We have a home game and they have a potential banana skin at Brockhampton.

“There’s all to play for. We just have to win our game and then we will see what happens.

“It was frustrating last week because I think we were on top when we came off.

“I think we’d have won the game had it gone the distance.

“But we’ve had the best of some games like that this season so it’s just the way it goes.”

Shifnal remain without the injured Jack Edwards but are boosted by the return of Ed Beard and Mitchell Stanley, who come in for Calvin Priest and Ismail Anwar.

Oswestry go to Leamington needing a victory and heavy defeats for both Bridgnorth and Shifnal if they are to steal second spot.

At the other end of the table, Wellington are at Tamworth needing to pick up three more points than Brockhampton to avoid finishing bottom.

If they could do that, and C&R Hawks finished second in Division Two, then Wellington would avoid relegation.

Shrewsbury are almost certain to finish their Premier Division campaign in fifth and they end their season with a trip to fourth-placed Smethwick.

Newport and Whitchurch will aim to go out of the Birmingham League on a high before they return to the Shropshire League in 2019.

Whitchurch complete their Division Three programme away to Handsworth while Newport welcome table-toppers Rugby to Audley Avenue.

Steve Box

By Steve Box

Assistant Sports Editor/Weekly Sports Editor

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