HEREFORDSHIRE’S fragile batting again let them down as they subsided to a 162-run defeat against Oxfordshire at Challow and Childrey.

It was the county’s third defeat in four Minor Counties Championship clashes.

After losing the toss and fielding first, Herefordshire were doing well in keeping the hosts in check at 141-6.

But missed chances and fielding errors failed to support some good bowling, particularly from Tom Hage (4-69) and Barney Morgan (3-47),

as big-hitting Tom Cosford (76) and former Worcestershire all-rounder Gareth

Andrew (67not out) took Oxfordshire to a final tally of 294.

Herefordshire lost five wickets in reply on the first

evening, including the crucial one of skipper Matt Pardoe for 32.

And at 48-5, there seemed to be a real danger that the county side would be forced to follow on.

However, Hage (28) and Morgan (34), with assistance from Ian Bullock (20) and the rest of the lower order, retrieved matters to rally to 174

all out.

The Oxfordshire second innings began with a landmark wicket for experienced seamer Dan Conway, who caught and bowled Freddie Smith to notch his 100th championship wicket for Herefordshire.

The schoolteacher bagged three more victims to finish with 4-23 and now only Kevin Cooper, on a distant 221, stands ahead of him in the

wicket-taking stakes.

Oxfordshire declared their second innings on 210-7 and although the victory target of 332 seemed improbable, when Pardoe (48) and

Juijhar Johal (31) were in the midst of an opening stand of 71, hopes were briefly raised.

Even at 79-1 overnight, a win seemed possible, however, once both openers had departed, the rest of the batting once again disappointed.

Teenager Ollie Rogoff showed some of his potential as he battled to 20 but no-one else was able to pass 15 as Herefordshire were all out

for 169.

The county side will be hoping for an upswing in their fortunes when Wiltshire are the visitors to Brockhampton for the next game, starting on Sunday August 18.