Knebworth Park s push for promotion stuttered when they lost to an under-strength Hitchin team. Hitchin were only able to field five of the players who played in the earlier fixture this season, and that included captain Craig Millwood playing with a brok

Knebworth Park's push for promotion stuttered when they lost to an under-strength Hitchin team.

Hitchin were only able to field five of the players who played in the earlier fixture this season, and that included captain Craig Millwood playing with a broken finger.

Park slipped to second place and will have to improve in their final two matches, both at home, against Berkhamsted and Totteridge Millhillians.

Knebworth won the toss and batted on what looked like a dry strip. Jarrod Turner and Ryan Skeggs started well enough until Skeggs was dismissed by keeper Ollie Hammond taking an excellent catch down the legside, with brother Ashley Hammond bowling, and when the next delivery trapped Tony Skeggs leg before, Park found themselves 29-2.

Another sharp catch, this time by Danny Fair, sent Turner (32) back to the pavilion off the bowling of Dave Moore, and Park were soon 43-4 as Ashley Hammond claimed his third wicket, having Steve Gregory caught by Chris Maylin.

Louis Champion followed, with the score on 60, when he offered a straightforward chance to Ollie Hammond, giving the keeper his second catch of the afternoon and Moore's second wicket.

The Knebworth middle order all tried to knuckle down to recover the innings, and they all got a start, but the slow scoring rate prompted indifferent shots.

Junior d'Abreu, after patiently getting to 19, swished at, and completely missed, a delivery from Geoff Edwards and was bowled with the score on only 78.

Adam Sergeant and Sam McCrow added the largest partnership of the day (44) before more good work from Ollie Hammond had Sergeant (25) stumped off Simon Bayston.

McCrow added one more run before he watched Hammond take two more catches in consecutive balls off Moore.

Park were 123-9 before a vital last wicket stand saw Shaun Robinson help take the score up to 150 in the 51st over, until he fell leg before to Bayston. McCrow finished with a valuable and resilient 43no, but the score looked woefully inadequate.

Moore (4-68) and Ashley Hammond (3-27) were aided by the impressive keeping of Ollie Hammond, taking four catches and a stumping.

The Hitchin batting looked under strength, and when Danny Fair left alone a delivery from Paul Slade which clean bowled him with the score on only three, Park may have felt they could get themselves out of trouble.

Ollie Hammond, batting at three, fuelled Knebworth hopes when he smashed a ball back, only to see it deflect off the hand of Tony Skeggs dismissing Mick Lee run out.

Hammond and Scott Marshall rode their luck, both surviving numerous appeals, until Marshall (23) was also run out, with Charlie Randall gathering well and getting the ball to Knebworth keeper Champion.

Hammond continued to steer the innings past 100, but when he fell for 46 caught by McCrow with Turner bowling, the Hitchin tail was exposed, although 107-4 and needing 44 still to win.

The makeshift Hitchin side all chipped in with a few runs, but wickets continued to fall and 131-5 became 133-8 when Tony Skeggs claimed two leg before decisions and McCrow added a third run out with a direct hit dismissing Maylin for 15.

Millwood, batting with a broken finger, took the score to 142 with Moore, until Millwood popped an easy chance for McCrow to catch.

But Moore and Geoff Edwards saw Hitchin past the winning line and claim the maximum 30 points.

* Knebworth Park seconds lost by six wickets to their Radlett counterparts, while their high-riding third team had the worst of a draw in their Division Five match against Old Elizabethans.

Veterans Sandy Reynolds and Graham Fisher bowled 44 overs between them and picked up four wickets each as their opponents closed on 201-8.

Jeremy Goodacre raced to 40 before being bowled but most other batters struggled and Park closed on 161-8.

The fourths had another excellent victory against Chipperfield seconds despite only posting 144, openers Sanjay Chandarana (25) and Chris Bonser (28) putting on 55 and Kyle Dix adding 29.

Dix and Matt Woods claimed two wickets apiece, while Ross Courtney finished with 3-15 and Stuart Dempsey 3-12 as the home side were bowled out for 78 in the 24th over.

* Hitchin second team's push for promotion received a boost against Boxmoor in Division Six.

They bowled the home team out for only 118 and chased the target for the loss of four wickets.

Chris Slack (4-35) and Steve Flint (3-28) were the main wicket takers, and Ben Thomson built on his two wickets, making an unbeaten half century as he guided his side to victory after an early wobble left them 40-3.

The thirds drew with Botany Bay thirds in a mid-table Division 12 clash.

Hitchin bowled the opposition out for 191 in 46 overs. After a poor start which left them struggling at 68-6, Hitchin were indebted to skipper Andy Beaton and Pete Gale who put on over a century partnership to save the game. Gale made his highest score of 55no, while Beaton was unbeaten on 40 at the close, and in the end were just 12 runs short on 179-6.