By william dick
Reigning champions Carlton failed to close the gap on the top two after slipping to a 53-run defeat against Forfarshire at Forthill.
Forfarshire, who went into the match uncomfortably close to the foot of the table, were given a solid start by the consistent Matty Parker whose 35 set them on their way to a challenging target.
The former Scotland pace bowler, now an accomplished opening batsman, was one of Cameron Shoebridge’s three victims as the hosts lost their way on 59-3.
Wickets continued to fall and Shire looked in dire straits when Chris Greaves was run out to leave them teetering on 118-5.
However, skipper Umair Mohammed (27) and Christian Robertson (34no) then helped them steady the ship to post 179-6 before the home bowlers put Carlton on the back foot.
The champions, minus several key players, were unable to post any partnerships of note while Umair was Forfarshire’s top bowler with four wickets.
Watsonians remain on the fringes of the title race after a comprehensive 153-run win over Glenrothes at Myreside.
The capital troops recovered from the loss of two early wickets to post an imposing 257-6.
Former Scotland batsman Ewan Chalmers, the home captain, led by example with a composed 72 while there were good contributions from Andrew Chalmers (46) and Brendan O’Connell (32).
Sonians’ total would have been greater still but for the three wickets claimed by Scott Lucas.
In reply the Fifers were always struggling after Andy McKay picked up one wicket and Dewald Nel three to have them in trouble on 29-4.
It got little better for the Fifers who eventually succumbed to 104 all out in 37 overs.
In a match reduced to 35 overs a side Aberdeenshire eased away from the basement with a 14-run win over SMRH at Mannofield while Falkland remain bottom after their clash with Heriot’s was rained off.
Clydesdale’s hopes of a successful defence of their Western Premier title are hanging by a thread after they slumped to a heavy defeat at Ayr. On a day when the weather claimed three of the scheduled five fixtures, Dale were no match for an Ayr side who romped to a ten-wicket success.
Without Scotland duo Richie Berrington and Con de Lange, the Titwood side could muster just 116 all out with the McElnea brothers, Andi and Scott, claiming four wickets each.
In reply Ayr cruised to the target, Kiwi Michael Papps leading the way with 75no and Neil Smith 35no to send Clydesdale to a third defeat of the season.
Elsewhere, Gavin Bradley’s 51 at Bothwell Castle helped Uddingston stay firmly in contention at the top of the table while leaving Kelburne rooted to the bottom.
The Lanarkshire side posted 152-8 from their 36 overs before the visitors collapsed to 99 all out.
The matches at Ferguslie, Greenock and Poloc were all rained off.