Oxford are all but relegated from Serious Cricket Home Counties Premier League Division 1 after losing to Tring Park on Saturday.
The eight-run defeat at Roman Way means that Oxford are 24 points off safety with just one game remaining. Even if they win at Bishop’s Stortford next week, Oxford would need Potters Bar to return
pointless from their trip to High Wycombe.
So it appears certain their nine-year top-flight stay will come to an end.
On Saturday, Oxford started well against Tring, with Brad Sutherland having Lloyd Patternott caught behind with the score on seven.
When the same bowler removed Leigh Tomlinson and Sam Masters in successive balls, the visitors were in trouble at 32-3.
But opener Fahim Qureshi proved a thorn in Oxford’s side, holding the innings together with a super century, his 113 coming off 179 balls.
Nonetheless, Oxford felt a target of 200 was within their capabilities.
Jamie Perkin and Chris Sandbach fell cheaply, before Stewart Laudat and Ryan Canning led the recovery.
However, Oxford went from 77-2 to 97-6 as victory seemed to be slipping away.
But Shamilal Mendis blasted a quick 63 not out to give them hope in a 38-run ninth-wicket stand with Tom Geeson-Brown.
But when Geeson-Brown fell and No 11 Rupert Evans was trapped leg before, Oxford fell eight runs short.
Scores: Tring Park 199 (F Qureshi 113, B Sutherland 3-27, R Evans 3-41, S Mendis 3-72), Oxford 191 (S Mendis 63no, R Canning 47, S Laudat 34, R Criddle 4-47). Oxford 7pts, Tring