COLIN Mitchell, the Clydesdale manager, stopped short of conceding the title in the wake of his side’s narrow defeat to leaders Ferguslie at Titwood on Saturday.

However, Mitchell acknowledged that the task has just become a lot more difficult.

A brilliant 130 from Richie Berrington was not enough for Dale to overhaul Ferguslie’s 249-8 which had featured a second century of the season from Michael English against the Titwood club.

In the end, the visitors held their nerve to win by seven runs and Mitchell said: “It was a good game of cricket but we only have ourselves to blame.

“We were happy to restrict them to 250 because at one stage they looked like getting 300. Where we lost it was in our inability to give decent support to Richie – a couple of 30-run partnerships and we win the game.”

The decisive partnership of the day was provided by English and Elliot Moses after Gregor Preston-Jones had been out in the first over of the match.

Clydesdale were convinced they had English out early in his innings but their appeal for caught behind was rejected and the Ferguslie batsman made the most of the reprieve, going on to compile a 149-run stand with Moses.

The South African was out for 58 but English continued to punish the home bowling on the way to a superb 102.
It soon became clear that Clydesdale’s hopes would rest on a big innings from Berrington and the Scotland man obliged, only to be let down by a lack of support.

Mitchell added: “We have to re-focus on winning all our remaining games. The title is certainly Ferguslie’s to lose but the test will be how they handle the pressure.”

Ferguslie skipper Jamey Carrurthers declared: “I was relatively pleased with 249 because our batsmen thought the wicket was a bit two-paced.

“It was another fantastic knock from Michael but Richie’s innings was also outstanding. From our point of view I felt we managed to keep him off strike at crucial times.”

There were also two centuries in the match between Ayr and Uddingston at Cambusdoon where Jimmy Sholto-Douglas’s 101 helped the visitors post 253.

Former Uddingston star Anwar Hafeez responded with 108no for Ayr who came up just five runs short.

Elsewhere, resurgent Poloc moved into third place after a convincing six-wicket win against West of Scotland at Shawholm while Stirling completed their second win of the season over Prestwick at New Williamfield, the champions going down by 24 runs.

Dumfries recorded their first win of the season, beating Greenock at Nunholm and leapfrogging their opponents in the process to move off the bottom of the table.