ANOTHER five-wicket haul by Robin Whittaker was not enough to prevent Burnham Sports sliding to a 66-run defeat in their title showdown with Goresbrook at Millfields.
Whittaker, who has been outstanding all season, claimed five for 37 as Goresbrook were restricted to 209 for nine in their T Rippon Mid-Essex League first division fixture.
His victims included the most prolific batsman in the league, Kurt Whisker, who has scored almost 800 runs this summer despite playing in four rain-hit games.
He had made only 16 when having his stumps disturbed by a peach of a ball that moved late.
Whittaker was also part-villain, though, as he overstepped the crease when bowling Michael Rooke shortly afterwards with a similarly excellent delivery that hit the top of off stump.
The no-ball verdict of Mick Elliott, the umpire, proved pivotal as Rooke held his side’s batting together with an unbeaten 78.
Fuad Ahmed (two for 52) supported Whittaker but the rest of the home team’s bowling lacked penetration.
Burnham, who had won promotion the previous week, began well enough in reply – they were 31 for one after seven overs – but they were missing two key batsmen in Jamie Hamilton (injured) and Grant Smith (unavailable) and, in similar circumstances to the reverse fixture, were restricted by accurate bowling and athletic fielding.
Stand-in skipper Joel Whittaker did hit a fluent 34 but, unable to find the necessary acceleration, his team finished up with only 144 for nine.
Goresbrook now lead Burnham by 11 points at the top of the table and will be confirmed as champions provided they beat South Weald, who are bottom, in their final game on Saturday. Burnham must also win away to Rayleigh to have any chance of depriving them of the title.