CIRENCESTER suffered their first county league setback of the season when they went down by 45 runs against unbeaten top-of-the table rivals Cheltenham Civil Service in the Park on Saturday.

Readers Glos CCL Div One

Cirencester 141 all out

Cheltenham Civil Service 186 all out

Handicapped by the absence of two key players in Simon Rowe and Jock Jamieson-Black, the Town produced three excellent individual performances, with a five-wicket haul for pace bowler Ross Jeffels and half-centuries from Ben Moody and skipper Gareth Williams, but an excellent all-round team effort by the visitors eventually earned them the spoils in a hard-fought contest.

With the Park pitch still affected by the midweek rain, Williams had little hesitation in asking the Cheltenham side to bat having won the toss, but the decision failed to provide instant dividends as visiting openers Jones and Mayes carved out a solid stand of 49 for the first wicket against the pace of Billy Breen and Will Mason.

Jeffels then came on to have Mayes caught behind by Matt Carter and when he then removed Leadbeater cheaply and Williams trapped Jones leg before for 37, the Town looked to be taking control with the visitors on 65-3.

Only a determined stand of 46 between Barrett and Baker steadied the innings.

Andy Cox and Bram Coleman each took a wicket to remove that pair before Mason chipped in with the sixth wicket to leave the visitors faltering on 128-6, but although Jeffels returned to claim two more scalps, the Service lower order added 58 vital runs to make the total 186.

Williams, in fine form so far this season, elected to drop himself down the order to five when his side began their reply and perhaps rued the decision, as Will Rudd was quickly trapped leg before by Jones for a duck and some tight pace bowling kept the usually aggressive Moody and Mason firmly on the defensive.

The Town then suffered two hammer blows as Mason and Reynolds were caught in quick succession leaving the score on 28-3 in the 15th over. But Williams then joined Moody to slowly steady the innings, although Williams briefly left the field after top edging the ball into his face.

The pair then took the stand to 61 and the total to 89 before Moody was crucially adjudged leg before on 54, and from that point the Town were always facing a tall order.

Williams kept battling to reach his own half-century, but the spin of Robinson accounted for Jeffels, Tony Wood and Coleman and when Williams was bowled by Barrett for 51, the contest was all but over.

Two late run-outs brought it to a close with the total on 141 with 13 balls remaining.