Wiltshire clinch Western Division with thrilling win over Shropshire

Wiltshire became Minor Counties Western Division champions after a thrilling four-wicket win over Shropshire in a rain-affected match at Heath Road.

Chasing 272 for victory late on the final day, Wiltshire got home with five balls to spare with Neil Clark (126 not out) starring in their total of 272-6.

Shropshire, who forfeited their second innings, made 332-9 in their first with Steve Leach (126) the mainstay.

The visitors had declared their first innings on 61-2 to set up their chase.

Wiltshire will now take on Eastern Division winners Staffordshire for the outright Minor Counties title next month.

"I still can't believe it, it's great," boss Neil Shardlow told BBC Wiltshire after his side secured their first trophy since 1909.

"We've never done it before and I'm just so thrilled as it's been a lot of hard work. This is the best occasion we've had."

Despite the willingness of the two captains to set up the chance of a result in Whitchurch, that looked unlikely with play not getting underway until 15:15 BST on the last day because of rain.

Brian Foxall, Shropshire chairman of selectors

"We were also very competitive against Wiltshire so there's certainly been progress and the young lads that have come into the side have shown they can play at this level."

Wiltshire's incentive was heightened by leaders Cheshire losing their match against Oxfordshire.

And thanks to Clark's efforts they squeezed home to clinch the title and end Shropshire's hopes of a fourth successive victory.

Leach, brother of Worcestershire all-rounder Joe, became the first Shropshire player to score a Minor Counties Championship century this season in the home side's impressive first innings.

After losing their opening two fixtures of the summer and then seeing captain Richard Oliver join Worcestershire, Shropshire's strong finish to the season bodes well for the future, according to chairman of selectors Brian Foxall.

"We've got to be pleased with what's happened after the first two games," he said.

"To still be competitive and have had an outside chance of winning the title going into the final fixture was terrific.

"We were also very competitive against Wiltshire so there's certainly been progress and the young lads that have come into the side have shown they can play at this level.

"If we are able to keep everyone together for next season then we've got cause to be optimistic."