MID CHESHIRE A are almost certain to miss out on a record fifth Federation National League title after starting the new season with back-to-back defeats.
Sunday’s 19-13 reverse against Barnsley, following last month’s loss by the same score against Leeds A, marks the first time the side has suffered successive setbacks since joining the competition in 2007.
“Our reign as Division One champions is probably over,” conceded team boss Chris Koral.
Mid Cheshire celebrated five wins, courtesy of Kevin Duncalf, Matt Hamman (both Castle Private), Craig Bourbonneux (Comberbach), Dave Stanley (Rudheath) and captain John Brooker (Frodsham Red Lion), at West Melton where the visitors only lost by a 26-chalk margin.
However the Yorkshire outfit went one better at Owley Wood, winning half of the head-to-heads in a slender 207-195 defeat to secure a 14-point victory on aggregate.
Castle quartet Andy Hamman, Paul Mackie, Mark and Rob Winnington, plus Pete Illidge (Rudheath) and Martin Gerrard (Owley Wood) were the Mid Cheshire men to reach 21 at the Weaverham venue.
Koral said: “Strong performances by our opponents’ away teams have made the difference this time around.
“In the past, our home form has been dominant and produced results that usually guaranteed the four bonus points for winning on aggregate.
“That hasn’t happened in our matches so far this season.”
In last season’s corresponding fixture against Barnsley, Mid Cheshire A had 10 winners at Frodsham Red Lion.
Mid Cheshire B started life in Division Four with a convincing 25-7 success against Fylde.
They are likely to be tested more by this Sunday’s opponents North Yorkshire, promoted at the end of 2013 as Division Five champions.
The home leg is at Frodsham Red Lion, where play starts at 2pm.