WILTSHIRE team manager Neil Shardlow was left to rue an ineffective performance with the bat as his side slipped to a third straight defeat in the Unicorns Championship, going down by 74 runs at home to Cheshire.

Having started the season with a win and a draw, Wiltshire’s form has drastically gone off the rails and they are now second from bottom in the Western Division table with one game to go.

Shardlow was left to rue a slow start for the home side at Devizes as a 93-run opening stand for Cheshire ultimately proved decisive in the final result.

Jake Lintott and Joe King took three wickets each as the visitors scored 197 but Ed Young’s 26 was the top score in reply as Wiltshire were dismissed for 118 to trail by 79 runs in the first innings.

Tahir Afridi’s five-wicket haul restricted Cheshire to 159 in the second innings, setting Wiltshire 239 for victory, but that chase came up short on 164, led by Neil Clark’s 33.

“It is disappointing and it comes down to the first innings,” said Shardlow.

“I don’t think either side batted well all game apart from their openers on the first day. A number of our players got in and made 20s or 30s but never went on.

“The difference in the two sides at the end of the game was 60-odd runs and that was probably reflected in their opening stand on Sunday morning. They batted quite solidly up until lunch on that first morning and that probably won them the game.

“They were a couple of sporadic performances which we can take a few positives from and I think we bowled pretty well to bowl them out for 190 and 160.

“On the third day we had them at about 80-8 but they pretty much doubled their score after that. Again, if we had got those two wickets, it could have been different.”

“You look back on the game and there were a couple of spells where we could have got something out of it.”

Wiltshire conclude their 2017 season with their final three-day game away at Shropshire, starting on August 13.