Copdock's failure seals fate of IES

CRICKET: Copdock and Old Ipswichians' failure to beat Frinton has upset the apple cart for a host of clubs in the Hargreaves Two Counties championship (writes Elvin King).

COPDOCK and Old Ipswichians' failure to beat Frinton has upset the apple cart for a host of clubs in the Hargreaves Two Counties championship (writes Elvin King).

They needed just nine points on Saturday to win the First Division championship and force a play-off with Cambridgeshire side Ramsey for a place in the East Anglian Premier League in 2002.

If successful, Copdock would have taken relegated Halstead's place and left the Two Counties with its usual two-down relegation situation.

With Exning, who pipped Copdock for the title with their win over Braintree, unwilling to move up to the EAPL, it now means that at least three clubs are likely to be relegated from each Two Counties division.

The only way this will not happen is if Ramsey's facilities are not found good enough for promotion and – if that is the case – Halstead agree to stay up. With Halstead winning just one game they might well decide it is best for them to drop down whatever happens with Ramsey.

For three of the last four seasons only one club has been relegated from the Two Counties First Division. Two years ago, only Witham relegated because Colchester withdrew from the Two Counties.

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This time it will be three clubs going down with Ipswich and East Suffolk, despite winning their last three league matches, joining Felixstowe and Frinton in Division Two for 2002.

Fakenham won the Norfolk League but like Exning they have declined an invitation to move up to the EAPL.

Copdock had already, like Ramsey, made their application, so no play-off is required and Ramsey will replace Halstead.

Copdock appeared to have the title in the bag, particularly when Exning lost their third match of the season at IES in August. But losing to Wivenhoe, Exning and then Frinton in their final three league games ended their dream of bringing top-flight club cricket to the Ipswich area.

Copdock scored 172 for nine on Saturday, which did not prove enough with Frinton winning by six wickets.

Exning were always in control against Braintree and won by 52 runs. Mike Edmond top scored for IES against Tattingstone and Neil Schofield took four cheap wickets against his former club as the home side collected a full 20 points to ensure they finished out of the bottom two.

But with Copdock losing it did not prove enough to stave off relegation.

Another three bonus points throughout the season would have seen IES finish above fourth-from-bottom Sudbury.

Felixstowe were well beaten by Browns in their final First Division game with Australian off spinner Brendan Meagher claiming five victims and pipping Charlie Sadler by one to be Browns' leading wicket taker.

Boxted, Halstead II and Harwich will be relegated from Division Two and in Division Three three clubs will go down, Stowmarket, Eight Ash Green and Clacton II while Tuddenham will move to the Suffolk Premier League.

The champions of the Suffolk Premier League, either Woodbridge or Woolpit, will replace Tuddenham.

Kelvedon, Abberton and Long Melford drop to Division Five and Braintree II, Ipswich and East Suffolk II and Mistley II to Division Six.

Boxted II, Kelvedon II and Tattingstone II are set to drop to Division Seven, with the latter losing out to Coggeshall II by a fraction.

The Division Six relegation situation is to be shelved until the league is aware of any new teams and any withdrawals. The top two teams from Division Two downwards will be promoted.