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Oxon’s Middleton Cup hopes come to an end

Oxfordshire’s hopes of a third successive Middleton Cup quarter final appearance ended at Oxford City & County BC on Saturday.

Playing group leaders Hampshire, Oxon needed a good points win to set up another qualification showdown with Kent in a fortnight’s time however, despite a heroic effort, some great play and a nail biting finish, the game was drawn, 115 shots to 115.

Hants took the lion’s share of the points (13-9) by virtue of winning on four rinks. The Oxford team was always behind but never out of contention in this contest as they once again showed the fight and team spirit that had seemingly been missing during the first two games of the series.

Mark Charlett with club mates Jason King and Gary May and Watlington’s Sam Watts were behind at half way against Russell Morgan however a run of seven successive ends saw the Oxon men open up a lead which was seven and the end.

The rinks of Baden Sparkes, Calvin Carpenter and Ian Snowdon lost by five, two and one respectively in encounters that, for the majority of the game, looked as if they could go either way while Mark Sykes’ four, for the second game in succession, led from start to finish, eventually also finishing seven up against Leo May.

In a repeat of last year’s match against Hants, Paul Sharman’s rink was last to finish and this time needed four shots to secure an overall team victory. Having been seventeen behind at one point the Carterton man and his rink of Lee Young, Shane Cooper and Barry Lambourne dug in against a run of poor fortune to win five out of six ends and close to nine after the penultimate end.

Again, in a repeat of last year’s game lead, Young opened the final end with a front toucher which set up the rest of the game for a tense finish. Sharman with his final bowl needed to remove a Hants bowl for a potential count of five. He found the target but could only ‘half’ the bowl away for one and a measure for more. Veteran umpire Les Upham played the last part in an excellent game of bowls as he measured with his renowned accuracy whilst both teams stood as silent onlookers.

The result: three to Oxfordshire, the fourth agonisingly close! Game drawn. Elsewhere in the group Kent beat Middlesex by 126 shots to 101 and by twenty points to two.

The final matches on 5th July see Oxon travel to Kent while Middlesex entertain the Isle of Wight.

Oxfordshire 115, Hampshire 115
9pts – 13pts

Mark Charlett 21, Russell Morgan 14
Baden Sparkes 14, Paul Ward 19
Mark Sykes 22, Leo May 15
Calvin Carpenter 17, Chris Daniels 19
Paul Sharman 19, Jim Marsland 25
Ian Snowdon 22, Richard Shelley 23

Full Report: MC Report v Hants 210614

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