By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle
Captain Rob Foster is confident Shrewsbury’s Birmingham League fortunes will soon pick up despite a disappointing start to the defence of their premier division title.
Shrewsbury have lost both of their opening league games with a heavy first day defeat against West Bromwich Dartmouth followed by a closer three-wicket reverse at Brockhampton last weekend.
But there was some welcome cheer for the London Roaders as a heavily depleted side featuring a host of youngsters and just two first teamers won by 57 runs at Penkridge in the first round of the ECB National Club Championship on Sunday.
Sam Griffiths was the hero with a stunning seven-wicket haul to set up an eagerly awaited second round clash against county town neighbours Reman Services from the Shropshire County Cricket League at Albert Road on Sunday.
But Foster is now keen that his team deliver an opening league win of the season at home to Dorridge on Saturday (noon).
Shrewsbury were invited to bat first at Brockhampton and were dismissed for 196 in the 50th over.
Opener Steve Leach top scored with 53 from 69 balls, cracking 10 boundaries in the process, but the only other notable contributors were skipper Foster (36) and Ed Foster (25).
It looked like it might still be a big enough total when Brock stumbled to 127-7, but Herefordshire batsman Ben Stebbings, who ended unbeaten on 91, dominated an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 70 to lead the hosts to 197-7.
There were two wickets apiece for Dewi Jones (2-28), Elliot Green (2-34) and Charlie Morris (2-47) but it was not enough to prevent Shrewsbury from losing a second successive defeat.
Foster said: “It was still disappointing to lose but on reflection there were a lot more positives with our cricket than the week previously.
“Steve Leach played well for his 50 and the two spinners Charlie Morris and Elliot Green bowled very well.
“We just let it slip at a key period. They were 130-7 and we really should have sealed the game off then and won it.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t quite drive it home, but their captain (Stebbings) played a fantastic knock.
“He guested for us last year in the Salop Leisure Twenty20. He’s a good friend of Mike Barnard’s as they were at university together and he gets on well with everyone at the club.
“We missed a few chances at key moments and we’re just a little bit off from being more competitive. We should have put a few more on the board which probably would have taken the game out of their reach.”
Foster was one of five Shrewsbury players on Shropshire duty on Sunday but was delighted to hear a patched up team claimed an impressive 57 run KO victory at Penkridge.
William Davies top scored with 46 while George Hargrave (30), stand-in captain Steve Leach (23) and Henry Rose (21) helped push the score up to 146.
Former Shelton paceman Griffiths then grabbed 7-51 and there was a couple of wickets for Alex Johnson (2-35) as the hosts were skittled for 89 inside 16 overs, with former Shropshire all-rounder Attiq Chisti left stranded on 41 not out.
Meanwhile, a half century from captain Jon Anders was unable to save SHREWSBURY II from a 17 run defeat at home to Brockhampton II in the Birmingham League’s premier reserve division.
Shrewsbury, who travel to Old Hill II on Saturday, pulled up just short on 219-9 in reply to the visitors’ 236-9.