Heywood Seconds showed great nerve and persistence to book their place in the final of the Burton Cup.
With the match slipping away after posting a below-par total of 167 and Clifton on 106-2, enter Heywood’s hero with the ball Sam Byrne.
He picked up 4-30 off 10 match-changing overs, and with Dom Fawcett drying up the runs at the other end, Clifton started to lose the plot.
And when Mikey Grogan picked up the last wicket of Hill – caught by Dom Fawcett – Heywood celebrated wildly as they had pulled a marvellous victory from the jaws of defeat. They now face Walsden in the final on Sunday 11 August at a venue yet to be decided.
The one downer of the day was the injury to veteran Rick Purser, who was taken to hospital with a badly broken finger. He had taken a brilliant catch at slip earlier on, but grassed a difficult chance in close shortly after that caused the damage. We wish him well.
Heywood had been well beaten by Clifton the previous day in the league, and they looked stronger in this match, although Simon Dawson returned from the first team to replace Matt Hood for Heywood.
Captain Roger Smethurst won the toss and batted, and he and Dawson made a good start to reach 31 off six before Smethurst went for four.
Dawson went soon after, but youngsters Dom Fawcett and Ben Thulborn looked to have things under control as they put on 35 for the third wicket.
A decent score soon looked a long way off as Heywood then plummeted to 95-6 with only Adam Fawcett holding things together, but he eventually found an ally in Lee Grogan, and with some decent late contributions from Byrne and Purser, Heywood reached 167-9 off their 50 overs.
This always seemed too small a target, and Clifton made it look so as they eased to 52-0 before Dawson took two key wickets of C Lord and Morris, the latter taken spectacularly at slip by Purser.
But Clifton continued to bat well and with Purser’s day ended with his broken finger while stood in close to Byrne, at 106-2 with 19 overs to go, it looked all over for Heywood.
But Byrne and Dom Fawcett had other ideas. He got rid of opener Ainscough – who had already been given several chances – for 32, and the pair weaved a spell that saw the match turn in Heywood’s favour.
Byrne was the wicket-taking threat, picking up three more, but Fawcett was the perfect foil as he conceded just 21 runs off his seven overs for one wicket – and he picked up a run out – to pull Clifton back to 129-8.
The ninth wicket put on 24 before Mikey Grogan took the first of two crucial wickets, and with six needed off the last over he had had Hill caught by Dom Fawcett to secure a memorable victory.
Smethurst was delighted.
He said: “This was a fantastic performance from Heywood, who showed again that at Crimble they can be a dangerous outfit in the field.
“With the game slipping away, the performances of Byrne and Dominic Fawcett proved crucial in dragging Heywood back into the game after Simon Dawson had initially got Heywood two key wickets.
“And then under intense pressure Mikey Grogan held his nerve to get Heywood home.”
S Dawson c ? b Meredith 24
R Smethurst c ? Lord b Meredith 3
D Fawcett c ? b Morris 21
B Thulborn c and b Morris 13
A Fawcett b Meredith 38
M Grogan b Reade 0
S Burrill c ? b Hill 4
L Grogan b A Lord 17
S Byrne not out 7
S Jones c ? b Meredith 0
R Purser b Lord 13
Total (49.2 overs) 167
Fall of wickets: 1-31, 2-32, 3-67, 4-76, 5-85, 6-95, 7-138, 8-143, 9-143, 10-167
Bowling: Hill 9-0-44-1, Meredith 10-1-33-4, Morris 10-2-29-2, Reade 10-3-24-1, A Lord 8.2-1-21-2, Dunn 2-0-11-0
C Lord c ? Grogan b Dawson 31
J Ainscough c Dawson b Byrne 32
I Morris c Purser b Dawson 0
J Evans c ? Grogan b Byrne 30
J Royle lbw b Byrne 5
C Thorpe c ? b D Fawcett 9
O Dunn run out 3
A Lord c ? Fawcett b Byrne 2
R Reade c ? b M Grogan 10
D Hill c D Fawcett b M Grogan 17
R Meredith not out 0
Total (49.1 overs) 161
Fall of wickets: 1-52, 2-52, 3-106, 4-114, 5-121, 6-127, 7-129, 8-129, 9-153, 10-161
Bowling: Purser 10-1-27-0, L Grogan 10-1-45-0, S Dawson 10-0-32-2, Byrne 10-2-30-4, D Fawcett 7-1-20-1, M Grogan 2.1-0-3-2
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