OXFORD’S hopes of avoiding relegation from Division 1 suffered a big blow at home to Welwyn Garden City on Saturday.

After their best batting display of the season which saw both Jamie Perkin and Ryan Canning hit centuries, Oxford failed to take the last Welwyn wicket and had to settle for a draw.

However, their display with the bat will give them belief that they can haul themselves out of the bottom two in the final four weeks of the campaign.

After skipper Ian Crosby had won the toss, Oxford lost opener Chris Sandbach with the score on 17.

Perkin and Stewart Laudat then shared a 67-run second-wicket partnership, before Laudat fell lbw to Jamie Hewitt for 25.

But that brought Canning to the crease, with he and Perkin dominating the bowling to share a superb 175-run stand – Oxford’s highest third-wicket partnership in the league.

Perkin eventually fell for 123, which came off 158 balls and included 13 fours and five sixes.

Canning finished unbeaten on 100 off 123 balls, with 11 fours and two sixes.

That allowed Crosby to declare with his side on 302-3 in 64 overs.

Oxford wasted no time in getting among the Welwyn batsmen, Tom Geeson-Brown and Brad Sutherland both claiming early wickets.

Shamilal Mendis then got in on the act, and his haul of 5-69 put Oxford on the brink of victory.

But with six overs at the final pair, they could not get the crucial final wicket and had to settle for a draw as their bid to beat the drop goes right to the wire.