Horley Under-14s were unable to make it a league and Festival Bowl double as they were beaten in the final for the second year in a row, this time by a good Rottingdean side.
Put into bat, Zack Collins and Christian Kelly got Horley off to a good start with a big-hitting opening partnership of 56 before Collins was caught for a swashbuckling 31 in the tenth over (five fours).
Kelly and skipper Aryan Patel took the score past 100 before Kelly was caught behind for an excellent 45 after 21 overs (eight fours), then Patel and Freddie Holland kept up the momentum, putting on 72 for the third wicket.
Patel played a great innings, making his best ever score for Horley – 74, including 13 fours and a six – before he was bowled in the 32nd over with the score on 180.
Horley couldn’t keep up the momentum in the final eight overs. Holland was run out for 16 and Harry Grimwood made 11 but three other batters were out in single figures as they tried to hit out.
With a total of 207 to defend from 40 overs, Horley really needed some early wickets and unfortunately they didn’t get them.
Rottingdean’s openers put together a partnership of 41 before Ben Cooper bowled Sam Blatchford in the tenth over. Another eight overs went by before Cooper – who the batters were struggling to score from - picked up the second wicket, well stumped by Kelly.
Rottingdean were a little behind the run-rate as the mid point of the innings went by, but Horley knew they needed wickets and Patel brought himself back into the attack early and had Rottingdean skipper and opener Connor Bettsworth stumped by Kelly for 61 in the 26th over.
By then the score was 135 for three and the visitors were picking up the pace of their innings, so Horley’s only hope was to take more wickets. Patel struck again in the 28th over, bowling Luke Twigger for 36, but Rottingdean were looking like hot favourites to win and they reached the target with four overs to spare.
Patel rounded off an outstanding individual performance by taking a magnificent diving catch off Collins in the 31st over, but Rottingdean were too strong for Horley on the day.
Cooper was Horley’s best bowler, taking two for 25 from his six overs, including a wicket maiden. Patel took two for 27.
Considering Horley have just seven under-14s in their entire squad and always have to call on the best players from the under-13s and 12s, to be champions of their East Surrey Colts League and reach the Festival final is an achievement to be proud of.