By Colin Stoner
STRATFORD fell an agonising one run short of toppling Warwickshire League Premier Division leaders Bedworth in a dramatic finale on Saturday.
The Panthers had dismissed the hosts for 193 at Miners Welfare Park, with Dexter Purser taking four for 43.
Stratford looked well on course to reach their target, with skipper Purser and John Price putting together an opening stand of 94.
Purser fell for 58 off 61 balls, including nine fours and two sixes, but the innings then stuttered horribly, with six wickets falling for just 12 runs.
Price was dismissed for 40 off 71 deliveries and Luke Nardone hit 21 but Inderpaul Singh Nandra (4-41) and Ashley Cutts (4-38) ripped through the heart of the innings.
When Ben Purser fell after a 21-run stand with James Urquhart, Stratford were 164-9 but last pair Urquhart and Richard Smith managed to eke out the runs to push them ever closer to their target.
However, with two required to win, No 11 batsman Smith was caught by Lewis Peacock off Mohammed Tahir to end the innings with three balls left.
Earlier, Stratford had won the toss and opted to field.
Top scorer Griegan French (44) and Ryan Parnell (22) provided a solid base for Bedworth with a 62-run stand for the first wicket but once Purser had made the breakthrough wickets fell regularly.
Ross Parnell (20) and Faizan Abdullah (39) kept the scoreboard ticking over before the hosts were dismissed for 193 after 48 overs.
Purser led the attack with 4-43 off ten overs and Urquhart claimed 3-49 off a tidy 15 overs and Richard Smith took 2-64.
Stratford Seconds went down by five wickets to their Bedworth counterparts at Swans Nest Lane.
Ed Cunynghame (54) and Steven Cootes (33) led the batting as Stratford, having been put into bat, were dismissed for 153.
With Matthew Plant hitting 54 not out, Bedworth got to 156-5 in the 39th over.
Full report and reaction in this week’s Herald.