Oxfordshire's hopes of qualifying for the Middleton Cup quarter-finals are hanging by a thread after a 119-110 defeat by Kent at Maidstone.

The 18-4 points defeat leaves Oxon with a precarious six-points lead at the top of Group 2B South.

Now Oxon must rely on Sussex beating Kent by at least 16-6 at Popes Mead, near Crawley, on Saturday to qualify.

The Oxon rinks of Paul Sharman, Baden Sparkes, Mark Sykes and Ian Snowdon were all close during the opening stages against Kent, while Alan Prew’s four slipped behind.

But this was balanced by Mark Charlett being well in control against Kent talisman Gordon Charlton.

The Kent man, however, was substituted at ten ends due to apparently suffering double vision as the result of a head injury.

His replacement was the excellent Taylor Monk, with Mick Arnold moving up to skip.

The whole perspective of that game then changed, and Charlett and his team did well to hang on for a 21-20 win.

After leaving the green, Charlton appeared to make a miraculous recovery, cheering his teammates on with fully charged glasses of cider.

Prew battled throughout in going down 22-19 to Jeff Vane, while Sharman was pipped 22-20 by Duncan Hanmore, and Sykes went down 24-18 to Ken Weyand.

Sparkes, so often nearly the last bowl hero in the previous games, finally got the win he and his four of Ron Pink, David Clanfield and Robbie Clanfield richly deserved, beating Mark Johnson 17-14.

The Headington four of Ian Snowdon, Craig Nicoll, Shaun Claridge and Dean May were the last to finish, and needed an unlikely seven shots to draw the match with Snowdon’s last bowl to come.

In the end, a two was dropped against the excellent Shaun McCaughan, who triumphed 17-15.

Kent 119 (18pts), Oxfordshire 110 (4)

(Kent rinks first)

Rink 1: D Mason, C Hall, M Arnold, G Charlton (T Monk 10 ends) 20, M Nash, G May, N Lewis, M Charlett 21.

Rink 2: P Foster, A Evans, S Savage, D Hanmore 22, L Young, A Martin, B Lambourne, P Sharman 20.

Rink 3: C Fox, G Horton, R Kendrick, M Johnson 14, R Pink, D Clanfield, Ro Clanfield, B Sparkes 17.

Rink 4: A Boatwright, N Jenkins, P Barnicott, J Vane 22, K Holloway, I Henwood, R Redford, A Prew 19.

Rink 5: D King, C Goldsmith, C Smith, K Weyand 24, AJ Docherty, G Schwab, C Carpenter, M Sykes 18.

Rink 6: J King, M Goord, A Morton, S McCaughan 17, D May, S Claridge, C Nicoll, I Snowdon 15.

OXFORDSHIRE made it two wins from as many Home Counties League games with a 121-116 victory over Sussex at Kidlington.

Jason King’s four of Brian Bloomfield, Andy McIntyre and David Clanfield led the way with a 28-14 triumph as Oxon won on three of the six rinks for a 16-6 points success.

Oxfordshire 121 (16pts), Sussex 116 (6)

(Oxon rinks first) Rink 1: S Hastings, Re Clanfield, K Alder, C Nicoll 26, S Rado, S Fenn-Tye, T Honnor, T Roberts 18.

Rink 2: V Webb, S Jones, R Barnett, M Petersen 15, J Henty, J Fenn-Tye, P Soper, D Anderson 22.

Rink 3: R Jackson, N Galletly, J Hardie, C Earl 17, M Gould, T O’Shea, R Shannon, T Giles 18.

Rink 4: B Bloomfield, A McIntyre, D Clanfield, J King 28, A Harding, D Kent, B Crittie, B Henty 14.

Rink 5: R Pink, C Miles, P Comley, A Ley 12, M Gill, G Geddie, T Palmer, T Vine 23.

Rink 6: A Kernish, G Hooker, I Whelpton, G Roper 23, R Leggett, T Arnold, J Larkin, T Sayers 21.

OXFORDSHIRE’S hopes of reaching the national rounds at Worthing in the Balcomb Trophy were dashed in the regional final of the National County Top Two Fours competition with a 46-28 defeat by Kent at Winchmore Hill, Middlesex.

Oxon’s fours of AJ Docherty, Nathan Lewis, Paul Sharman and Howard Watts plus Keith Holloway, Richard Redford, Calvin Carpenter and Mark Sykes had beaten Berkshire 55-30 in the semi-final earlier in the day.

OXON Under 25s lost by nine shots to Surrey in the Junior Home Counties League at South Oxford.

This Sunday, Oxon Under 25s take on Sussex at Kidlington in the White Rose National Double Rink competition for a place at Worthing.

Oxon Under 25s: Darren Wakeman, L Wilkinson, Dan Wakeman, G May; G Schwab, S Cooper, C Gilkes, S Watts.