POOLE TOWN 201-3 (19pts) beat PUDDLETOWN 200-8 (5pts) by seven wickets

PUDDLETOWN lost further ground in the battle to avoid relegation as Dorset Premier League leaders Poole Town took a comfortable seven-wicket win at Poole Park.

Adam Barrett’s Puddletown side are bottom of the table, now 20 points behind ninth-placed Christchurch in the final safe position with 40 points left to play for.

It means Puddletown must realistically win both remaining matches and hope Christchurch slip up twice to avoid the drop back to County Division One.

READ MORE: Puddletown lose by 58 runs to Cattistock & Symene

Puddletown won the toss, batted first and were immediately into their work as openers Ryan Norman (29) and Ollie Shrubsole made a solid start.

The ex-Swanage duo put on 47 for the first wicket with Norman blasting a rare six over the huge boundary at Poole Park.

However, Richard Armstrong (4-50) dealt Puddle a double blow as Norman was caught before James Mitchell (0) was castled.

Shrubsole continued to build with Reegan Norman (21) but after the latter’s departure to the wily Dorset Over-50s skipper Joe Wilson (2-18), Puddletown were in trouble.

While Armstrong, Wilson and Joey Wormington (1-40) chipped away at the lower order, Shrubsole expertly farmed the strike and went on to score a quite brilliant 106 not out, his innings containing 11 fours.

As a result of the centurion’s heroics, Puddletown posted 200-8 – only their second total above 200 this season – and starved title-chasing Poole of full bowling points.

Like Puddletown, Poole made a good start to their innings with openers George Moses (31) and Lewis Marais (47) in fine form.

The duo stroked 13 boundaries between them but both fell to the part-time bowling of Mitchell (2-49).

And Norman (1-31) put Poole three down when he had Jordan Betts (1) caught, the hosts needing inspiration from somewhere to keep a difficult chase alive.

They duly found it, emphatically, through Badrul Alam (40no) and Armstrong (57no).

Showing classy manoeuvrability of the ball around the field, the duo milked runs and added the occasional boundary, with Armstrong the more aggressive of the two.

Puddletown did not have an answer to the pair and they guided Poole home with 10.4 overs remaining to extend to eight points their lead over Dorchester in second spot.

Speaking to Echosport, Barrett said: “We’ve batted really well. That’s the highest score hit at Poole from a travelling side this season.

“Two hundred runs up there you’re always in with a chance. At tea you could see it was a must-win for them.

“They thought we’d scored more runs than they thought, mostly down to Shrub. Shame we didn’t have him all season.

“He’s come in and scored a hundred, he’s not given a chance. It gives the whole team confidence when you have a player like that.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t back it up with the ball. We had a lot of our frontline bowlers missing but overall it’s a really good performance, especially from a team that’s bottom of the league.”

On the relegation battle, Barrett added: “Last week I was very negative and I still think we’re massively up against it.

“But there’s two games to go. If we were to win one of our last two and pick up losing bonus points in the other, you never know.”

Puddletown host Bere Regis on Saturday (1pm).

In County Division Five, Puddletown Seconds beat Blandford Seconds by 18 runs.