Despite a spectacular innings from Hugo Darby, Oxfordshire Academy slipped to a narrow 21-run defeat on first innings at home to Free Foresters in their two-day match played at Goring-on-Thames.

It was a much-changed Oxon side from the one that had beaten Buckinghamshire earlier in the week.

But despite that, they put in a spirited performance only to fall just short.

Free Foresters decided to bat first on winning the toss, and they posted a formidable total of 334-9 dec after virtually a full day’s batting.

Leading the way was Harry Cane, who finished 124 not out, while Great & Little Tew’s 6ft 7in left-arm spinner Joe Thomas was the pick of the Oxon bowlers with 3-40 from 15 overs.

Declaring on 334-9, Free Foresters made rapid inroads into the Oxfordshire top-order, reducing them to a precarious 20-4 as George Reid, Will Hawtin, Jack Wilkins and Phil Warson all fell cheaply.

But, led by skipper Darby, Oxon got back on track in style.

Darby, a regular opening batsman in the county’s senior side this season, was in mercurious form with a majestic 159.

He shared good partnerships with Curtly Slatter, Graham Beer, Harvey Eltham and Tom King.

But when Darby fell, caught and bowled to Ollie Birt, Oxon fell to 313 all out to suffer a narrow loss.

They are next in action at home to Bucks Academy in a one-day game at Kidlington on Thursday.