Leach falls just short of century as Shropshire beaten by Cheshire

Shropshire’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Unicorns Trophy were dealt a major blow as they were beaten by 60 runs by Cheshire at Oswestry.
Steve Leach’s side were left to reflect on what might have been after letting Cheshire off the hook. The visitors, having opted to bat first, were in trouble at 99-6 and later 197-8. But, inspired by an unbeaten 95 down the order from No 9 Nick Anderson, they rallied to post an imposing 320-9.
Skipper Leach did his best to spark a successful chase, making 94, but support was in short supply as Shropshire succumbed for 260.
Brian Foxall, Shropshire’s chairman of selectors, said: “It’s hugely disappointing following the strong result against Wales in our last game. Cheshire went at it very positively but paid the price for that a little bit when they went from 70-1 to 99-6. At that stage we were in a very strong position but they had two really good lower order partnerships.
“The big difference in the two innings was that they found the boundary a lot more times than we were able to. Even when we hit some good shots, we seemed to find the field quite consistently.”
Shropshire made an important early breakthrough when Sam Griffiths removed in-form opener Warren Goodwin, who had struck an unbeaten 168 in leading Cheshire to victory over Wales a week earlier.
The visitors quickly advanced to 70-1 but it looked to be advantage Shropshire when a flurry of wickets saw the hosts gain the upper hand with Cheshire reduced to 99-6 in the 19th over.
Jack Williams led a Cheshire revival by putting on 98 for the seventh wicket with Adam Worrall (33) before Will Cook (3-66) brought an end to the partnership by trapping Williams leg before for 66.
Another wicket fell on the same score, reducing Cheshire to 197-8, but then the match was taken away from Shropshire by a fine stand of 110 for the 9th wicket between Anderson – who ended unbeaten on 95 from just 55 balls, hitting six sixes and 10 fours – and Ash Davies (22).
That propelled the Cheshire total up to a formidable 320-9 from their 50 overs and left Shropshire, who play their final group game against Staffordshire at Leek on Sunday, with plenty to do.
The hosts needed a good start to set them up for a successful chase but instead they lost two wickets in as many balls in the seventh over. Richard Oliver was bowled by former Glamorgan man Will Owen, who then immediately got rid of Omar Ali.
Oliver Westbury joined Leach in the middle in an attempt to repair the damage, but once the Worcestershire Academy prospect was out for 27 and Ross Aucott soon followed, Shropshire’s task became even more challenging at 104-4 in the 22nd over.
Wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals and when skipper Leach was eighth man out for 94 – he faced 117 balls, hitting a six and four boundaries – Shropshire were staring defeat in the face.
Henry Blofield, at No 9, cut loose to crack a brisk 43 before being last man out as Shropshire were finally dismissed for 260.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stuart Dunn