Underdogs Oxfordshire are hopeful they can spring a surprise in their crunch Middleton Cup clash against Kent on Saturday.

Victory over their rivals will secure a quarter-final clash with Berkshire, but team manager Steve Gilkes says that they will have their work cut out to progress from the Group 2 Section B South group.

Although Oxon lie second in the table going into the final match, a win will be enough to progress.

“Given the hugely superior strength in depth of Kent over Oxon – who have 174 clubs against 37 here – they have to be overwhelming favourites,” Gilkes said.

“But my players will again be well prepared and definitely up for the game, looking to create an upset.”

He added: “We will be doing everything in our power to get the points.

“Despite our great wins in the last two games, my players know that they must now step up their performance even higher.

“If they do that, then our team spirit, which is second to none, will help us over the line.”

Oxfordshire make one change to the team that beat Hampshire a fortnight ago, David Clanfield coming back in on Calvin Carpenter’s rink for Mike Petersen.

Oxfordshire: K Holloway, I Henwood, N Lewis, A Prew; A Docherty, G Schwab, R Redford, M Sykes; L Young, A Martin, B Lambourne, P Sharman; J Philpott, D Clanfield, R Clanfield, C Carpenter; D May, R Clanfield, S Claridge, I Snowdon; M Nash, G May, J King, M Charlett.

Oxfordshire chalked up their first win in the Home Counties League by beating Berkshire 114-105 at Three Mile Cross.

Oxon had to win to stand any chance of retaining the title and put in a solid performance to take the game 18 points to four.

Ian Snowdon, facing former Berkshire teammate, Colin Brooks, took a shot on each of the first five ends before winning by two.

Mark Sykes’s rink of Bernie May, Chris Gilkes and Richard Redford struggled during the opening ends, but soon found some form to run out seven-shot winners over David Oakes.

Barry Lambourne was involved in a tight encounter up until 16 ends, but a run of four ends won by opposing skip Richard Barton saw Oxon lose by nine shots.

Mark Charlett’s rink was seemingly in control against Chris Holliday at 17 ends, but a flurry of Berkshire shots saw them win by two.

Paul Sharman’s experienced set-up of Mick Nash, Ian Whelpton and Alan Ley always led against former Oxford man Dale Hall and ran out seven-shot winners.

On rink six, Mark Hancock and Steve Gilkes started slowly against Peter Swinn, but found some consistency to win by four.

Oxfordshire’s next clash is against Kent at Thame on Saturday, July 13.

Oxon 114 (18pts), Berkshire 105 (4) (Oxfordshire rinks first) Rink 1: S Cooper, P Skidmore, S Claridge, I Snowden 19, A Symonson, T Wacey, K Nash, C Brooks 17.

Rink 2: B May, C Gilkes, R Redford, M Sykes 23, J Oakes, T Clough, T Searle, D Oakes 16.

Rink 3: A McIntyre, G Hooker, C Weller, B Lambourne 11, C Tarran, E Orme, D White, R Barton 20.

Rink 4: S Watts, J Bland, P Comley, M Charlett 19, A Chipper, B Dillon, N Jones, C Holliday 21.

Rink 5: M Nash, I Whelpton, A Ley, P Sharman 18, BJ Byles, K Mallandain, P Mortel, D Hall 11.

Rink 6: R Pink, S Gilkes, C Earl, M Hancock 24, P Holland, P Kozlowski, E Hollinrake, P Swinn 20.