REPORT BY ROGER SMETHURST: Heywood 2nds entertained Littleborough at Crimble on Saturday in a crucial bottom of the table clash.
Fresh from their victory the previous weekend luck appeared to be with the home team when, for the first time in months, home captain Roger Smethurst won the toss and promptly elected to bat first.
This air of optimism wasn’t to last for long though as with his first ball of the innings veteran Littleborough seamer Brendan Miskella induced Matt Hood to edge to slip leaving the home side 0 – 1.
Worse was to follow in bowler-friendly conditions, and with Miskella bowling a nagging line and length, Heywood were soon reduced to 29 – 4 with Adam Fawcett, Ray Baker and Ben Thulborn all falling cheaply. Miskella was to later finish his 15 over spell with excellent figure of 3 – 28.
Tom Blundell, in the meantime, was battling at the other end and despite never looking fluent went on to make the game’s top score of 29.
With wickets falling regularly Heywood appeared in dire straits at 79 – 9 and when Rick Purser lobbed a gentle catch to cover all appeared lost.
Lady luck, though, was still with the Crimble outfit as the catch was dropped and Purser and Smethurst then went on to compile a stand of 46 in 14 overs before Smethurst was last man out for 23 trying to hit his counterpart Chris Dearden over mid off in the 49th over. This left Purser stranded on 19 and Dearden with the respectable figures of 3 – 10.
This partnership seemed to galvanise the home team and early inroads were made into the Littleborough line up.
16 year old James Mills first had Barnes caught at cover and then one over later snared the dangerous Sutcliffe with a spectacular one handed caught and bowled.
Not to be outdone, Purser nipped in with a wicket and Littleborough were wobbling at 13 – 3. Despite a brief rally Dominik Fawcett entered the attack and immediately settled into a nagging rhythm which resulted in two further wickets for the home team who had now reached 33 – 5.
A lot rested on the shoulders of Littleborough captain Chris Dearden and with youngster Ryan Miskella they moved Littleborough towards the home side’s score knowing that Purser had finished for the day with excellent figures of 1 – 26 from his 15 overs.
Not to be outdone, though, Heywood’s younger players were up for the contest and when Ben Thulborn, bowling offspin, snared Miskella into playing a false shot Heywood had a key breakthrough.
Mills had come back for a tight second spell and finished with his seasons best figures of 3 – 23 and it was left to Dominik Fawcett to wrap the innings up with his season’s best figures of 4 -17.
This left Littleborough finishing on 93 all out, short of the 94 needed for a point enabling Heywood to seize 5 points and establish a 21 point gap between themselves and the bottom club with 9 games left.
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