GRANGE last night slipped to their first defeat of the campaign as Forfarshire blew the Eastern Premier title race wide open with a thrilling win at Portgower Place.
Chasing 248 Grange suffered a couple of setbacks when Gordon Goudie was bowled by Christian Robertson and he was joined back in the pavilion soon after when Tom Macintosh was trapped lbw in Brock Ditchmen’s first over.
Robertson almost struck again when he found the inside edge of Nick Farrar’s bat but the ball narrowly missed the stumps and raced away for a fortuitous boundary.
The bowler, though, got his man – clean bowled – as Grange were reduced to 55-3.
Robertson claimed his third and most important scalp when Preston Mommsen edged to Michael Leask at gulley before Grange’s travails intensified when Dylan Budge was removed by Liam Sweeney for 16 to leave the home side on 70-5.
A stand of 94 between Andrew Brock and Tom Foulds offered hope of a recovery but Sweeney struck again to dismiss the former before Foulds was run out for 71.
Grange still needed 32 when last man John Blain limped to the wicket with a runner in a desperate bid to salvage the match.
The former Scotland and Yorkshire bowler had helped reduce the deficit to 17 runs when he was stumped by Craig Wallace off a wide by Leask from the first ball of the penultimate over.
Earlier Rory Johnston hit a magnificent unbeaten 113 as Forfarshire took advantage of superb batting conditions to set a challenging target.
The Scotland Performance Academy player shared good stands with Wallace (26) and Chris Greaves (32) but it was his unbroken sixth wicket partnership with Scott Cameron which saw the visitors accelerate towards the end of their innings.
Cameron hit a couple of lusty blows in his 35no while Johnston continued to accumulate skilfully.
At nearby Goldenacre, champions Heriot’s tucked into a run-feast as they maintained their challenge with a derby win over Stewarts Melville.
Hayes van der Berg hit 149 and Elnathan Meiri 139 as the home side rattled-up 346-2 before dismissing StewMel for just 48
Glenrothes remain rock-bottom and without a win after RH Corstorphine cruised to an eight-wicket success at Gilvenbank.
Aberdeenshire professional Akshu Merengnage hit 106no as Aberdeenshire beat Arbroath at Mannofield while Mike Castle blasted 90 inside twenty overs to help Carlton to a thrilling one-wicket win over Watsonians at Myreside.
WESTERN Premier leaders Ferguslie remain on course for the title after a battling victory over Uddingston at Bothwell Castle.
The home side elected to bat first but the anticipated runs failed to materialise as they were reduced to 12-3, Riyaad Henry claiming two and Jamey Carruthers one.
When Haroon Tahir struck in his first over to have the dangerous Ross Lyons caught behind hopes of a substantial total receded further.
Uddingston refused to fold, instead clawing their way to 141-8 from their allocation but the Ferguslie bowlers always had the upper-hand.
The visitors lost their openers early in the chase, Michael English’s prolific run coming to an end when he was out for just a single while Gregor Preston-Jones followed soon after.
However, Henry’s 67 guided Ferguslie to the target with six wickets in hand.
There was more good news for Ferguslie when the second and third placed sides both lost, Clydesdale going down by 105 runs to Stirling at Titwood while Poloc’s winning run ended as they lost by four wickets at Prestwick.
Neil Flack claimed three wickets and scored 56 as Greenock moved off the bottom of the table with a three-wicket win over Ayr who have slipped into the relegation places.
There was drama at Hamilton Crescent where the umpires stepped in to abandon West of Scotland’s clash with Dumfries due to an unfit pitch.
West had reached 55-4 during thirteen fraught overs during which batsmen were clearly troubled by the uneven bounce.