Contrary to the adage of having a home ground as a fortress, Hemel Town managed to lose their two home games but win their two away games convincingly on Saturday.
All four of Hemel’s Saracens Herts League sides are now safe from relegation, with the third XI in with a shot at promotion, despite Saturday’s reverse.
After a couple of wins, Hemel’s first team have now slipped to a few defeats, which has been the story of their season. Hemel went down to their fourth home defeat out of eight on Saturday, which has stalled any hopes of gaining promotion back to the Premier Division. Winning the toss and asking Flitwick to bat, Hemel were on top for most of the 50 overs apart from a quick-fire 90 in 84 balls from Flitwick skipper George Thurstance on their way to 236-7.
Lewis Hodgins was the pick of the Hemel bowlers with 4-23 from his 10 overs.
The run chase was on and Hodgins opened with 43 off 44 balls. Joham Maritz following with 59 from 40 and Hemel looked to be on their way.
But it all fell away as time at the wicket and run-scoring did not gel. Stand-in skipper Jack Doodson dug in for 43 but no-one could stay with him. The tail tried to wag, but the last four wickets crashed out in two overs as Flitwick won by nine runs.
Hemel remain in fourth spot in the Championship as Flitwick climbed out of the relegation zone, pushing Langleybury into danger.
There was a crunching win for Hemel II, their fifth on the trot, as they moved up to third in Division 3B. Only two games remain so promotion hopes are remote but they have improved significantly from being at the foot of the division at the end of May.
Hemel’s bowlers tore through Harpenden III’s line-up, led by Charlie Hoskins (3-23), and backed by Kevin West (2-10) and John Peppett (2-34), playing up from the 3rds.
In the reply, Suren Perera led from the top with an unbeaten 105, helped by 23 not out from Ryan Wilson as Hemel reached the target in 21 overs. Suren scored 104 last week and has been excellent since moving up from the third XI.
Hemel III won the toss when hosting Old Elizabethans II and batted first, only to be skittled out for just 116 in 33 overs.
Batting at number eight, Ross Chapman top scored with 37, but only two other Hemel batsmen reached double figures, Tim Wright (25) and Andy Turbutt (17).
Old Elizabethans then made 120-3 in 31.3 overs to win the game.
The loss saw Hemel III drop to second place in Division 6B by a single point.
This Saturday’s game between new leaders Abbots Langley II and third-placed Letchworth Garden City III could prove to be pivotal as Hemel have the weekend off since North Enfield II have dropped out of the league.
Hemel then face Abbots in the season finale on September 1.
In June this year Hemel IV inflicted Sandridge II’s first defeat of the league season, by 10 wickets in a game that had 560 runs scored at the Heath Park Nursery ground.
Winning the toss this time, Sandridge thought they could do the same and put Hemel into bat at their ground. There was some similar run scoring from Hemel as they made 250-9 in their 50 overs.
Barney Stalin hit 64, Dil Khan 45, Mike Samuels 32 and, at number 11, Dan Keane struck an undefeated 29.
Hemel’s bowlers then dismissed Sandridge for just 73 in 23.3 overs. Keane took 3-16 in five overs, while Khan grabbed 2-8 and Martyn Bell 2-12.
Vinnie Liddar finished it off, taking the last two wickets in three balls for no runs.
Although Hemel have beaten them both times, Sandridge are 41 points and a place above Hemel in third position.
Hemel’s Sunday first XI as good as confirmed promotion from Division 3 of the Lords Chess Valley League at the weekend after a good home win over Watford Town II at Heath Park.
Skipper Lewis Hodgins was able to rotate his troops around for success.
Johan Moritz (3-23) and Charlie Hoskins (3-12) were the bowling leaders as Watford were all out for 140.
Hemel needed just 26 overs to reach the target, with Will Langley (67) and Barny Yeo (64 not out) leading from the front.