TOM Costley is bullish about Oxford Downs’ prospects ahead of their John Goodman Cup last four clash with league winners Wokingham.

The Oxfordshire side are at home for tomorrow’s semi-final after ending the regular season fourth, with High Wycombe or Chesham waiting in the final if they win.

Will Watts replaces James Ellwood as Downs look to continue the form that saw them beat Horspath by 69 runs last weekend.

Captain Costley said: “They’re the only team we’ve played this year that we played last year, so we know a little bit about them.

“We’ve tried to tailor our training to what we think they’ll do, but they’ll be very dynamic and might decide on the morning of the game.

“We’ve got a great chance of going all the way – we’re proving we’re a force to be reckoned with.”

Horspath are in the John Goodman Plate, where they visit Thame Town in an all-Oxfordshire semi-final.

After being reduced to 30-3 by Downs, Horspath concentrated on reaching 125 to claim the two batting points they needed to reach the last four – eventually closing on 139-7.

Skipper Lloyd Belcher said: “Our intention was to go for their total and I was confident at the halfway stage.

“But we realised we were in a difficult place, so we adjusted our focus.”

Jimmy Phillips and Alfie Turner drop out for Dominic O’Connor and Angus Livingstone, with Horspath hoping for a repeat of the 94-run win in this fixture in August.

Belcher added: “They’ve been very strong and we’re expecting a tough game, so it’s a different scenario.”

Thame, who bring in Chris Jeffcock for James Adams, might have been in the cup if they had not had two games abandoned.

Captain Mike Beard said: “We felt a little bit hard done by not to finish in the top four.

“But we’ve had the chance to blood some youngsters and that means we’ve got that extra three or four players for next year.”

Meanwhile, Aston Rowant visit Henley in the other plate semi-final.

George Reid and Robin Pritchard are unavailable, so Tom Condon comes in alongside James Coles – who this week made his first-class debut for Sussex against Surrey at The Oval.

The teenager took three wickets in the match, including those of England internationals Rory Burns and Ben Foakes.

Rowant skipper Josh Smith joked: “He’s had quite a week, so we’ll bring him back down to earth.”

Oxford host Buckingham in the play-off for teams finishing 17th to 20 as they seek to bounce back from last weekend’s eight-wicket defeat to Chesham.

Jamie Perkin’s side, who will make two changes, were bowled out for 56.

Perkin said: “We’ve got quite a lot of wrongs to put right.

“We could have had them eight down with a bit of luck, but we didn’t play well enough to win.”

Banbury will give game time to a host of young players for their 9-12 semi-final at home to Burnham, with only Joe Thomas and Ollie Clarke keeping their places.


Aston Rowant (v Henley, away): Whatman, Smith, Fitzjohn, Coles, Hammersley, Watling, Condon, Bethell, Mannering, Morrick, Chapman.

Horspath (v Thame Town, away): O’Connor, Coleman, Ward, Sehgal, Green, W Eason, Hawtin, Beer, Belcher, Rafiq, Livingstone.

Oxford (v Buckingham, home): Mackay-Champion, Carey, Mathews, Tait, Ramalingam, Swanepoel, Perkin, Musk, Keat, Bridson, Mace.

Oxford Downs (v Wokingham, home): Crouch, Smith, Cosford, Watts, Costley, Sandbach, Maslen, Slatter, Warner, Brock, Rivett.

Thame Town (v Horspath, home): Beard, Ebsworth-Burland, Meer, Jeffcock, C Russell, Mushtaq, Bamford, A Russell, Jelfs, Sutcliffe, Rooney.