ASTWOOD Bank's top order batting woes continued as they suffered a 27 run defeat to title chasing Stratford in the Birmingham League Division Three on Saturday.

Banks' batsmen were given a target of 175 for victory but after top four were dismissed for 47 runs, the Worcestershire League Champions struggled for runs.

Despite a spirited performance by the middle order and tail end, Bank fell short on 148.

Apart from skipper Steve Adshead, who has averaged over 50 runs a game this season, the rest of the top four have struggled.

Brandon Miller has amassed 79 runs in seven innings, while Alex Robinson (68 in four innings) and Sam Thomas (67 in six innings) have yet to find their best form.

But Adshead backed the top order to find runs again.

He said: "I was really pleased with the way we bowled.

"We have high standards and I think we reached them with the ball.

"Batting wise, one of the top order needed a big score and once we did get that then we struggled.

"The middle order and the tail got us close but we were playing catch up.

"They are good players and they know they can get big scores.

"Once they do it one time then then runs will come. Brandon is a good player who has scored lots of runs at this level and I am sure he will come good.

"They have contributed with 20s or 30s but not with a big score yet and there's not particularly one reason.

"He's come into a new side and is still finding his feet but the quality is there."

Astwood had won the toss and decided to bowl first but did well to keep Stratford to 175-7 in 55 overs.

Jonathan Summers (4-29) and Andrzej Jagielski (2-58) took the wickets, with only Dexter Purser (53) and Ben Piggot (40) really scoring runs for Astwood's opponents.

However, once Bank lost Adshead (19), Robinson (24), Miller (4) and Thomas (0) they struggled to stay in the game.

Joel Haslam (16), Jagielski (32) and Dan Thomas (17) scored late runs but it was not enough.

Astwood now tackle table topping Hawkins C&R at home on Saturday (noon start).