HEYWOOD crashed to one of the lowest-ever totals in their history to leave hopes of a place next season in the newly-created Premier Division 2 of the Greater Manchester League hanging by a thread.
They were rolled over on a difficult wicket after a start delayed by 45 minutes, and losing a crucial toss, for just 34 in 29.5 overs by promotion-chasing Flowery Field at Crimble.
And even though Heywood reduced the visitors to 14-5 in reply, there was to be no amazing escape in a five-wicket defeat.
That leaves Heywood needing to get something out of their final game at Glodwick this coming Saturday, certainly a difficult proposition with the Oldham area side eyeing the points just as desperately in their bid for automatic promotion to the Premier League.
When Heywood won the reverse fixture at Flowery Field back towards the end of June it was based on a tremendous opening stand of 201 between James Kettleborough and Bobby Cross.
This time they managed just one run between them, Kettleborough caught behind without scoring from the second ball of the game and Cross following him back to the pavilion bowled for a single from the third ball of the third over.
Both were victims of impressive left-armer Mike Finan, easily the League’s leading wicket-taker this season, who with former Littleborough paceman Michael Burns formed a deadly new ball partnership that Heywood never remotely came to terms with.
Finan trapped professional Faisal Iqbal lbw in the professional’s final game for the Club before returning home to Pakistan, and Andy Dawson followed shortly after trying to pull a short ball but only managing to lob a tame catch leaving the scoreboard showing 11-4 at the start of the 10th over.
Jack Morley had, meanwhile, been trying to stem the tide and battled to seven from 43 balls until he became Burns’ first victim, clean bowled, and when Sean Burrill and Dominic Fawcett soon followed it was 16-7 at less than a run per over.
The prospect of a total under the 20 mark was a real one, but Mikey Grogan managed a top score of nine as the last three wickets more than doubled the total.
The Flowery Field bowling figures illustrate the hold that the visiting attack had on the game. Finan finished with 5-15 from his allotted 14 overs, Burns recorded 2-11 from 11 overs, then professional Saurabh Bandekar wrapped things up with 3-5 in one ball short of four overs.
Just 34 runs in 179 balls and not a single boundary!
The hazardous nature of batting was underlined when the visitors replied – and for a brief while Morley threatened to bowl his side to an incredible comeback.
The left-arm spinner was virtually unplayable from the Lake End and he quickly claimed the scalps of Kieran Lawton, Bandekar, Sean Gibson and Nick Eastwood in an electric spell of 4-10 from 51 balls.
And with Sohail Asildada putting in a creditable stint at the other end to get rid of Finan, courtesy of a fine catch by Burrill, Heywood’s players and supporters dared to dream.
But Ben Mason was standing firm at the other end and found a gritty ally in Burns, and they eventually saw their side over the line.
Mason closed out the victory with the only two boundaries of the game, both off Iqbal, and his unbeaten 17 was the single batting contribution in double figures throughout the match.
At least Heywood now know unequivocally what they have to do. A maximum-points victory at Glodwick, while a stiff task, would take them to 67 points and guarantee them finishing in sixth place in Division 1A – enough to secure the last spot in Premier 2 next season.
J Kettleborough c Mason b Finan 0
R Cross b Finan 1
F Iqbal lbw b Finan 4
J Morley b Burns 7
A Dawson c Feakes b Finan 0
D Fawcett c Lawton b Finan 1
S Burrill b Burns 3
M Grogan c Mason b Bandekar 9
M Witts c Mason b Bandekar 5
W Hunt not out 0
S Asildada b Bandekar 0
Total (29.5 overs) 34
Fall of wickets: 0-1, 1-2, 7-3, 4-11, 12-5, 16-6, 16-7, 31-8, 34-9, 34-10
Bowling: M Finan 14-8-15-5, M Burns 11-5-11-2, S Bandekar 3.5-1-5-3, D Feakes 1-0-3-0
K Lawton c A Dawson b Morley 0
M Finan c Burrill b Asildada 3
B Mason not out 17
S Bandekar lbw b Morley 5
S Gibson b Morley 0
N Eastwood b Morley 0
M Burns not out 2
Total (for 5 wkts, 16.2 overs) 36
Fall of wicket: 1-1, 5-2, 10-3, 10-4, 14-5
Bowling: S Asildada 7-2-15-1, J Morley 8-3-10-4, F Iqbal 1.2-0-10-0
- None Found