STAFFORD firsts slipped to a six wicket defeat at Oulton to leave the promotion race from Division 2A of the North Staffs and South Cheshire Cricket going down to the wire.
Despite this, Stafford do remain top with two games to play and are 11 points clear of Newcastle and Hartshill and 20 clear of Kidgsgrove in third spot.
Oulton asked Stafford to bat first and their batting didn’t really click as Dan Colclough bowled a controlled spell of 6-41 to see Stafford 173 all out.
None of their top order really got in until professional Aparajit Singh hit 33 and Mark Smallman 45 in 67 balls late on.
In the reply, Oulton always looked in control as opener Tom Phillips hit 87 and Rob Spruce claimed 67 to steer them to victory in 44.3 overs closing on 175-4.
Stafford are at home to lowly Bagnall in a crucial penultimate game at Riverway this Saturday with a 12-00 start.
The seconds clinched promotion to Premier B and are a on the verge of the 1B Championship after a three wicket win at home to Moddershall.
They are 44 points clear of second placed Checkley with two games to go so should be celebrating the title this weekend.
This week’s opponents Moddershall were put into bat and found themselves restricted to 184-8 in their 50 overs at Riverway thanks to Dave Cartlidge 4-57.
Ali Shah top scored for the visitors with 53 not out helped by a good knock of 34 by opener Irfan Khan.
Stafford did lose wickets in the run chase with Karl Mason 36 Graham Gillis 66 and Sean Mason 30 all contributing well before Craig Mertins kept his cool to get them over the line with 25 not out.
The home side closed on 187-7 from 46 overs and face a trip to Sandyford this weekend with a chance of securing the title.