HOPES of a third successive Middleton Cup quarter-final were halted for Oxfordshire following a 115-115 draw against Hampshire at Oxford City & County.
Needing a significant win to set up a showdown in their final South Group Section B fixture against Kent, they fell short despite a nail-biting finish.
Victories on only two rinks meant the hosts came away with nine points compared to leaders Hampshire’s 13.
Oxfordshire were always behind, but never out of contention.
Their spirit was summed up by Mark Charlett who, along with teammates Jason King, Gary May and Sam Watts, fought back to win seven successive ends and come out on top 21-14.
The other win came from Mark Sykes’ four.
Along with AJ Docherty, George Schwab and Richard Redford, they led from the start to also win by seven shots.
Although Baden Sparkes rink lost 19-14, two other matches went right to the wire.
Calvin Carpenter’s team were edged out 19-17, while Ian Snowdon’s men were even closer to success as they went down 23-22.
The narrow defeats meant, in a repeat of last year’s fixture with Hants, the overall result rested on the final end of Paul Sharman’s rink.
Having trailed by 17 shots at one stage, he and Lee Young, Shane Cooper and Barry Lambourne dug in against a run of poor fortune to take five out of six ends and close to nine after the penultimate end.
A four-shot win would have given the hosts a team victory, and Sharman needed to remove a Hants bowl for a potential count of five.
He found the target but did not make a decisive contact and after a tense wait while umpire Les Upham took measurements, Oxfordshire won by three to finish level.
They wrap up the campaign on July 5 at Kent, who won 126-101 against Middlesex.
Oxon 115 (9pts), Hampshire 115 (13)
(Oxon rinks first)
Rink 1: S Watts, G May, J King, M Charlett 21, A Clarke, A Marchant, C Thresher, R Morgan 14.
Rink 2: R Pink, C Weller, C Whitehead, B Sparkes 14, J Leggett, A Nixon, J Biggs, P Ward 19.
Rink 3: AJ Docherty, G Schwab, R Redford, M Sykes 22, J Sharpe, T Bailey, N Durman, L May 15.
Rink 4: K Holloway, I Henwood, S Richens, C Carpenter 17, M Aldren, J Cooke, M Griffiths, C Daniels 19.
Rink 5: L Young, S Cooper, B Lambourne, P Sharman 19, K Philip, C Cranham, C Bailey, J Marsland 25.
Rink 6: D May, K Alder, N Lewis, I Snowdon 22, L McCubbin, M Smith, J Bright, R Shelley 23.
Latest Sport news
12:33pm Friday 19th December 2014
PIRI Weepu returns to the London Welsh starting line-up for tomorrow's Aviva Premiership fixture with Saracens at Allianz Park (KO 3pm).
12:00pm Friday 19th December 2014
JOSH Ashby is good enough to play in Oxford United’s side right now, but the teenager knows his time will come, according to head coach Michael Appleton.
9:40am Friday 19th December 2014
RONNIE Moore is braced for a tough first game in charge of Hartlepool United after comparing opponents Oxford United to Real Madrid.
9:30am Friday 19th December 2014
John Campbell admits it would be difficult to keep his kit on if he was able to make an impact on debut for Oxford United tomorrow.
Interactive match preview: Appleton and Hylton on goals; Moore likens United to Real Madrid; Howard's future; Ashby; club stalwart departs + video
9:34am Friday 19th December 2014
Get ready for kick-off with our interactive preview of Oxford United's trip to Hartlepool
9:10am Friday 19th December 2014
THERE were times earlier this season when it felt like Danny Hylton was scoring in every game, but Oxford United’s top scorer is not getting weighed down by a sudden barren run in front of goal.
9:00am Friday 19th December 2014
FINDING a predator to turn dominance into goals has been an Achilles’ heel for Oxford United this season, but Michael Appleton is hopeful two candidates will emerge over the festive period.
8:00am Friday 19th December 2014
ABOUT 150 supporters have taken advantage of Oxford United’s offer of free transport to tomorrow’s game at Hartlepool United.
7:30am Friday 19th December 2014
North Leigh boss Mark Gee admitted he is ‘wary’ of struggling Wantage Town as his side travel to Alfredian Park in Division 1 South & West of the Evo-Stik Southern League tomorrow, writes Matthew Bruce.