BY ROGER SMETHURST: Heywood seconds faced their toughest weekend of the season to date when they came up against the top two sides in the second division.
On Saturday, Walsden were the visitors to Crimble and Heywood again lost the toss and were asked to field first on a hot day.
Against an aggressive top order the Heywood bowlers stuck to their task well with Rick Purser amongst the wickets picking up 3-48 in his 15 over spell including the key wickets of captain Stuart Hanson and all-rounder Jonathon Lord, who made 27.
However it was the performance of “part-time” bowler Adam Fawcett that was crucial in helping Heywood restrict Walsden to 205-9. After a rusty start, Fawcett finished with impressive figures of 4 – 52 from 11 overs, at times extracting bounce and movement and, barring a dropped catch, could have finished with a well-deserved 5-wicket haul.
In reply Heywood suffered the early loss of Ray Baker and despite a number of batsmen getting a start only Chris Booth was able to go on and build a substantial score, eventually making a gritty 66 not out.
With the score at 111-5 Heywood appeared to have little chance of getting anything from the game, however when Dom Fawcett scored 12, in adding 31 with Booth, this pushed Heywood towards a crucial point.
A couple of quick wickets appeared to have finished the game before Roger Smethurst then hit a quickfire 17, adding 39 in 5 overs with Booth before falling with 20 needed from the last over. Despite James Mills hitting two glorious cover drives, Heywood finished 10 short on 195. Against a Walsden side who had lost only one game all season this was a spirited performance from the seconds, who, with a bit more urgency in their running between the wickets, could have sneaked an unlikely victory.
Buoyed by their performance the previous day, Heywood made the short trip to Norden to face another side who had experienced only one defeat this year.
Losing the toss for the 14th time this year Heywood found themselves fielding against another aggressive batting line up.
Once again the Crimble attack stuck to its task well, although they were not helped by a woeful fielding performance that saw Heywood drop at least six catches, one of which caused captain Roger Smethurst to damage a finger.
Purser again bowled a solid 15 over spell, picking up 2-47 in his 15 overs, and despite being wicketless, James Mills bowled an excellent controlled spell of 12 overs.
In the meantime, though, the strong Norden line up were gradually building a solid total with first team regulars Harvey Fitton and Dan Buckley scoring 51 and 46 respectively, with Fitton in particular playing some aggressive shots against the Heywood seamers.
With Tom Blundell captaining in Smethurst’s absence, Mikey Grogan was introduced into the attack and produced his best display of the season. He eventually finished with figures of 4 – 52 from 11 overs, his final wicket being that of Dom Humphreys who had played very sensibly for 61.
This left Heywood chasing 240 for victory.
Sean Burrill opened the batting with Matt Hood and Heywood got off to a flying start, assisted by some wayward bowling from the Norden attack.
Unfortunately the Crimble outfield could not sustain this start and the introduction of Norden spinners Morrell and Ahmed put the brakes on the scoring rate.
As with the previous day virtually every Heywood batsman got a start and made their way into double figures but none were able to capitalise and go on to play the match-winning innings required. Chris Booth eventually finished as top scorer with 22 but in truth Heywood couldn’t cope with the Norden attack.
Morrell finished with 3-34 and Ahmed 3-40 from their respective 15 over spells.
Heywood briefly looked to have a chance of securing another losing point when Keelan Nugent hit a quick-fire 17, but when he departed Norden reintroduced their opening bowlers Fitton and Buckley in an effort to pick up 5 points resulting in Smethurst and Purser finding themselves unable to score in the face of some accurate bowling, Heywood eventually finishing well beaten on 170-9.
Despite having lost twice, Heywood need not be too despondent having come up against the two top sides in the league. There were clear signs of the team showing some of their early season form and in difficult conditions the Heywood bowlers stuck to their task with Adam Fawcett & Mikey Grogan putting in performances that offer a good deal of hope for the remainder of the season.
On the batting front, Chris Booth played 2 controlled innings following his brief spell in the 1st team and Matt Hood showed glimpses of the form that sees him as the team’s leading run scorer.