By Neil Goulding

CHESHIRE suffered their first loss of the season with a five-wicket defeat to Shropshire in the MCCA Knockout Cup.

Despite some fine batting from Andy Hall's team, last year's Minor Counties champions' total of 234-7 declared was not enough to stop the Loggerhead's from winning.

New signing Ben Spendlove, formerly of Derbyshire, shone with the bat and made a classy 68 after Hall won the toss and elected to bat.

Promising Hyde-based left-hander James Duffy produced a Cheshire best with a Knockout Cup debut half-century as the visitors posted 234 in their allotted 50 overs.

However, despite taking some important wickets at crucial times, Cheshire were undone by some splendid batting from Chris Martin and Jon Whitney, who led the charge for the hosts.

Right-hander Whitney top-scored with 68, while left-hander Martin contributed a vital 60 as Shropshire won with an over to spare.

"We're disappointed to have lost, but we didn't bowl well enough at the end of the day," admitted Hall.

"We batted very solidly and could have probably got a few more runs if we'd not lost quick wickets towards the end of the innings.

"But we've still got two more cup games to play and if we both of them we can qualify for the next round."

The J W Lees-sponsored Cheshire side had their opening MCCA Knockout Cup match with Cumberland abandoned because of heavy rain, thus sharing the points.

The county's remaining cup matches are against Herefordshire (May 14 @ New Brighton) and Northumberland (May 21 & Tynemouth).

"We've got two tough games in front of us, but I've seen plenty of encouraging signs for the season," added Hall.

"It was great to see James Duffy bat so well. He's a promising cricketer, one of many we've got in the team, who I hope will be successful.

"The Knockout Cup is important to me. I really want us to have a good run in it this year."


Cheshire innings: 234-7, 50 overs (B Spendlove 68, J Duffy 51)

Shropshire innings: 237-5, 49 overs (J Whitney 65, C Martin 60)

RESULT: Shropshire won by five wickets

Cheshire team v Shropshire: Andy Hall (capt), Matt Dawson (wkt kpr), Nick Cantello (Bramhall); Danny Leech, Ben Spendlove, Nathan Dumelow (Oulton Park); James Duffy, Tom Young (Hyde); Jason Whittaker (Walshaw); Dave Pennett (Harrogate); Chris Hampshire (Nantwich). 12th man: Lee Dixon (Upton). Scorer: Janet Herbert.