LUDLOW slipped to the bottom of the early Shropshire Premier standings despite an encouraging week that featured two improved batting performances.

Buoyed by a T20 win over Shifnal two days earlier, Ludlow pushed league leaders Newport all the way on Saturday, only to fall to defeat with just three balls remaining.

Defeat sent Ludlow to the foot of the table and they will hope for a first win of the season over the Bank Holiday weekend with home games against St George’s (Saturday) and Wellington (Monday).

Ludlow, who have struggled for runs in the opening weeks of the campaign, were much improved with the bat at Newport.

They got off to a lightning start thanks to a quickfire half-century from Okera Bascome, who hit 55 off 47 balls before being caught behind.

Ludlow then slipped from 81-1 to 98-4 but Glen Whittaker (30), Will Sparrow (20) and Sam Roberts (27no) guided them to 209-9.

When Louis Watkins (4-55) took three top-order wickets to leave Newport on 55-3, Ludlow sniffed victory.

But opener Maisam Hasnain Jaffri evaded capture and went on to compile a match-winning 124no to lead Newport over the winning line with just three balls to spare at 210-6.

Watkins (3-10) and Luke Miles (3-14) had led Ludlow to victory over Shifnal seconds in the Shropshire Senior Slam T20 first round, their efforts helping dismiss the visitors for just 95.

Ludlow endured a few scares in their run chase, slipping to 35-3, but Daniel Ashley's 33 gave them victory at 98-6 with 31 balls still remaining.

Ludlow seconds recorded a second win on the spin in Shropshire Three as they beat Shelton by four wickets. Gareth Parker's superb unbeaten 82 got them home with an over to spare at 188-6.