LUDLOW CC captain Ruel Brathwaite wants his side to treat each of their remaining nine games ‘like a cup final’ after another defeat kept them firmly amid the Shropshire Premier relegation battle.

The Burway men’s seven-wicket loss at home to Whitchurch on Saturday was their fourth defeat in six games and they remain ninth in the table, two places above the drop zone.

The wretched form of bottom two Bomere Heath and Allscott Heath – who have won just three times all season from a combined 26 games between them – is keeping Ludlow out of danger.

But with a tough run of fixtures against three of the division’s top six – Sentinel and Worfield away, then Newport at home – to come, Brathwaite knows his side are far from safe.

He said: “Every game from now on has to be like a cup final – every game is must-win or, when the games go back to the win/lose/draw format, must-not-lose.

“We need to pick up points whenever we can, play a smarter brand of cricket and put some pressure on ourselves to get results.

“We had a long chat after the last game and hopefully we can learn from what we did badly and what we did well and take that into the next match.

“We are not playing a bad standard of cricket but there are lots of silly mistakes we need to cut out and we have to win the games that we have been losing narrowly.”

Batting woes have been Ludlow’s problem all season and they crumbled to 63-8 against Wellington before Brathwaite’s unbeaten 43 off 37 balls ensured they at least posted 123.

When Wellington slipped to 4-2 in reply, a miracle seemed possible but Salim Ahmed (43), Elliott Bowen (39) and Ijaz Yousaf (28) batted patiently to guide the visitors to victory at 124-3.

Brathwaite added: “It’s frustrating because we are getting beaten by teams who are not outplaying us – we are just playing bad cricket at times.

“I think we have only had four or five half-centuries all season and that isn’t good enough – and the players, myself included, need to have a good look in the mirror over the next few days.”

Ludlow seconds are having a much more enjoyable season in Division Three and they thrashed ten-man hosts Hodnet, Peplow and Tibberton by 178 runs to stay third in the table.

Having been reduced to 33-3 early on, Ludlow were indebted to a stunning match-winning knock of 168 from Glen Whittaker, who was caught off the final ball of the innings.

Ed Riley (51) provided admirable support as Ludlow posted 283-5, a total they defended with ease as Mackenzie Swift (3-19) and Riley (3-20) limited the depleted hosts to just 105-8.