James Askew insists Littlehampton Cricket Club can bounce back from a slight dip in form to get their Sussex League Division 4 West title charge back on track.
A magnificent unbeaten 150 from opener Thomas Lee was not enough to see them to victory as they had to settle for a successive draw in a home clash with Middleton 2nd XI on Saturday.
Littlehampton had won eight matches on the bounce to put them well clear at the top but no victories in either of their previous two fixtures sees them just 17 points clear of nearest challengers Broadwater.
Askew knows a win for Littlehampton over Chichester Priory Park 2nd XI – currently third and 28 points adrift of the leaders –this weekend would get their title push firmly back on track.
He said: “We move on to Chichester away next week in what could be a game that sets up how the rest of the season goes for us.
“We are in a little dip of form but if we can bounce back we can possibly put a good points gap between us and Chichester in third.”
Littlehampton welcomed Middleton 2nd XI after being frustrated at Crawley the previous week but had the same feeling following this one.
After being stuck in, Lee starred as Littlehampton racked up the runs.
Opener Lee crashed a superb unbeaten century (150*) to put his side on their way to what they hoped would be a victory.
Number three Jack Turner (64) also weighed in with a half-century as he and Lee put on 159 for the second wicket.
Lee remained for the whole innings and Michael Askew’s quickfire 31 off 19 deliveries got Littlehampton up to 297-4 declared off 46 overs.
Littlehampton made an ideal start as seamer McLeod Cox got rid of opener Stuart Nelmes (nought).
Middleton lost wickets at regular intervals and looked to be heading for defeat as they slipped to 125-6.
Mark Robson (33) and Matthew Lee (22*) dug in for Middleton, sharing a ninth-wicket stand of 50 to keep the home side at bay.
When Robson fell Littlehampton would have been hoping to sneak over the line but Middleton stood firm, earning a draw as they finished on 219-9 off 54 overs.
Nathan Perry (3-45), Ryan Budd (2-68) and skipper James Askew (2-26) all toiled with the ball to no avail in the end.
Captain Askew felt they should have won the game and said: “It was frustrating having put ourselves in a great position to win the game.
“Tom (Lee) and Jack (Turner) both batted superbly to help us post a big score in quick time. We felt 54 overs gave us enough time to try and bowl them out but it wasn’t to be. The bowlers gave their all. There are a few things we have taken away from the game that we can look to improve on.”
Leaders Littlehampton travel to third-placed Chichester Priory Park 2nd XI for a crunch meeting on Saturday.