Shropshire’s qualification hopes in the Unicorns Twenty20 competition suffered a double blow with defeat in both of today’s group matches against Oxfordshire.
Having performed impressively against Berkshire at Whitchurch 24 hours earlier, Shropshire travelled to Oxford’s Magdalen College in good spirits.
But they were beaten by 70 runs in the day’s opening match before a six-defeat in a much closer second game.
Invited to bat in the first fixture, Oxfordshire posted an impressive total of 190-3, which was built around a second-wicket stand of 103 between opener Will Sutcliffe (68) and Tom Cosford (60), who struck half a dozen sixes in his 30-ball innings.
Skipper Jonny Cater then added a quickfire unbeaten 30 to boost the home side’s total.
Shropshire, in reply, were soon in trouble at 16-4. Oswestry’s Joe Carrasco tried to repair the damage by making 25 and Shifnal’s Jack Edwards chipped in down the order with 23.
But there was no way back as the visitors were bowled out for 120 from 18.5 overs.
Game two saw Shropshire again bat first and they made a promising start with openers Alex Phillips (37) and Will Parton (21) putting on 48 for the first wicket.
Captain Ross Aucott, pictured, was then in good touch, top scoring with 43 from 22 balls, with three sixes and three fours, as Shropshire totalled 156-9 from their 20 overs. Joe Thomas claimed 3-28.
Oxfordshire were again well served with the bat by opener Sutcliffe as he completed a productive day by hitting 46 at the top of the order.
Skipper Cater guided the home side to their victory target by compiling an unbeaten 61 from 37 deliveries as Oxfordshire advanced to 159-4 with an over to spare, with Charlie Home taking 2-27 for Shropshire.
Bryan Jones, Shropshire’s chairman of selectors, said: “Off the back of playing pretty well against Berkshire, we didn’t achieve the same level of performance.
“The plan was to play better again, but credit to Oxfordshire as they absolutely batted brilliantly to get 190 in the first game.
“That put us under tremendous scoreboard pressure to chase that down. Somebody’s got to play really well.
“We were in a good position at 123-4 in the second game and we didn’t quite finish off a total. We were probably 20, 25 runs short of where we should have been.
“To stay in the competition, I suppose we’re going to have win all the other games. It’s a tall order, but we’ve still got four games to go and if win all four and if everybody beats everyone else, there’s still a chance.”
Shropshire’s next T20 action sees them host Herefordshire at Wrekin College on Sunday, May 26, with their final group games against Buckinghamshire at Gerrards Cross on Sunday, June 16.