Heywood seconds’ Burton Cup dream was ended by a superior Middleton team at Crimble on Saturday.
Yes, a poor wicket and some indiscipline from Heywood contributed to their below-par total of 107 all out, but Middleton bowled straighter than Heywood and gave the batsmen little to hit.
And yes, if a catch off man of the match Danny Core had been held by Roger Smethurst with Middleton 38-4, things may have been different.
But it was not the Heywood we have seen all season, and Middleton were deserved winners of a Burton Cup title that had seemed destined to be Heywood’s since their first-round fightback against Clifton.
Heywood batted first after losing the toss, although Smethurst was more than happy to bat.
But in the face of Mark Buckley and visiting skipper Ricky Valentine, Heywood’s title hopes hung by a thread.
The pair tied Heywood in knots and Valentine claimed the wickets of Phil and Simon Dawson, well-taken in the slips off wickedly lifting deliveries, to bring captain Smethurst and Curtis Maguire in too early.
Maguire looked fairly solid, until he spooned a full-toss to mid-on. He was quickly followed by Smethurst, to leave Heywood in pieces at 31-4.
Wes Hunt and Andy Dawson looked to be getting Heywood back in it, but Hunt was run out after a shocking lack of awareness from the talented under-18s player, and when Lee Grogan fell first ball to an horrific lifter from Core that squeezed on to the stumps, Heywood were in the mire at 48-6.
Dawson and Adam Fawcett did their best to get Heywood up to the 130 or so that was needed to really challenge Middleton, but they couldn’t hang around long enough and Heywood were all out for just 107.
Heywood made early breakthroughs through Maguire and Rick Purser, and hope started to rise when Grogan claimed two quick leg-before decisions to leave Middleton reeling on 36-4.
Then came the key overs of the game. Smethurst dropped what looked to be a sitter off Core moments after the all-rounder had come to the crease, and Core then proceeded to look clueless against Simon Dawson, who beat the bat and somewhow failed to hit the stumps on numerous occasions.
But Core dug deep and started to find his A game, helped by Gareth Hughes and Buckley.
In the end Middleton eased home to win by five wickets, and deservedly so.
A catch taken here, a run out avoided there and a snick to an away swinger – all could have made a difference to the game.
But Heywood effectively lost the match by losing too many quick, early wickets. It was a sad end to Smethurst’s cup ambitions.
P Dawson c Jones b Valentine 5
S Dawson c Bennett b Valentine 2
C Maguire c Valentine b Tomlinson 15
R Smethurst lbw b Tomlinson 7
W Hunt run out 10
A Dawson c Core b Hughes 27
L Grogan b Core 0
A Fawcett c Buckley b Hughes 20
S Jones b Bennett 6
R Purser not out 1
S Byrne c Copeland b Bennett 0
Total (49 overs) 107
Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-7, 3-30, 4-31, 5-48, 6-48, 7-89, 8-99, 9-102, 10-107
Bowling: Buckley 8-2-14-0, Valentine 10-4-12-2, Tomlinson 10-2-28-2, Core 10-0-20-1, Hughes 6-0-21-2, Bennett 5-0-9-2
M Lee c Hunt b Maguire 5
M Shahid c Jones b Purser 4
R Jones lbw b Grogan 11
R Bennett lbw b Grogan 7
D Core not out 43
G Hughes c Jones b A Dawson 6
M Buckley not out 9
Total (for 5 wkts, 38 overs) 108
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-14, 3-35, 4-36, 5-79
Bowling: Purser 10-3-18-1, Maguire 8-0-28-1, Grogan 9-5-13-2, S Dawson 4-0-23-0, A Dawson 5-0-16-1, Byrne 2-0-7-0.
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