REPORT BY STEVE MCHUGH: HEYWOOD were subjugated by a Clifton side riding the crest of a wave in a clash of teams at opposite ends of the Greater Manchester Premier League spectrum.
A five-wicket defeat at the Swinton area club left the home side well in the hunt for the inaugural title of the new cricket set-up, and the visitors still embroiled in a relegation fight after their three-game winning run was brought to an end.
In a nutshell, Heywood simply did not get enough runs at a fast-scoring venue, and Clifton galloped to their victory target of 143 in rapid time.
The home opening attack of Liam Hurt, arguably currently the most effective paceman in the league, and professional Gareth Cross had the Heywood top order on the rack from the off.
Overseas amateur Jayden Borg pulled Hurt for a tremendous six but when he tried to repeat the dose only succeeded in playing on; Bobby Cross was bowled in the next over trying to drive his namesake; and Andy Dawson became the next victim at 30-3 when a ball from Hurt just clipped the bails.
When Cross then made professional Danny Pawson the fourth clean bowled victim for 16, leaving the scoreboard showing 52-4, many of the visiting supporters wondered if the side would even post a total of three figures.
But Dominic Humphreys was joined by West Hunt and two of the younger members of the side gave Heywood hope of giving their bowlers something to work with.
They saw off Hurt and Cross, driving and pulling the ball fluently, and, after a half-century partnership at 105-4, Heywood’s spirits were rising. Yet the opening duo were then recalled to the attack to stifle the comeback.
Humphreys tried to pull the pacy Hurt but only succeeded in lobbing a return catch for an impressive 43, Hunt danced down the wicket to Cross and was bowled for 25 – and the rot set in again.
Hurt had Jack Morley caught behind, former Heywood favourite Steve Cheetham claimed the wicket of Sean Burrill in the same manner, and the innings folded tamely as Chris Humphreys and Mikey Grogan perished cheaply.
The biggest crime the Heywood batting line-up made was not getting anywhere near using their allotted 50 overs, being dismissed in 40.4. That meant Clifton had 59 overs to reach their target, although they needed only 27.3 as most of their batsmen chanced their arm.
Adam Holt went quickly, caught behind in Chris Humphreys’ first over, but that only brought in Cross to set the tone for the rest of the innings.
The professional got after Simon Dawson and Humphreys with a series of pulls, drives and clips as he raced to 37 in quick time.
Morley gave rise for some hope when he bowled Will Davidson for 15, and 57-2 became 61-3 when Dawson trapped Cross lbw for 37.
Dean Morris made sure there were few further alarms, however, as he rode his luck with a series of edges in between impressive boundaries.
He lost 15-year-old Sam Dorsey, caught on the point boundary by Grogan for 10, to make it 100-4. But Joe Brown joined Morris to snuff out any further Heywood hopes with a quickfire 27 before being well caught by Hunt on the ‘cow corner’ boundary edge with just four runs needed for victory.
That allowed Morris and James Evans to complete the last rites as Clifton underlined that their title challenge is a genuine one.
R Cross b G Cross 9
J Borg b Hurt 6
D Pawson b G Cross 16
A Dawson b Hurt 4
D Humphreys c and b Hurt 43
W Hunt b G Cross 24
J Morley c Brown b Hurt 4
S Burrill c Brown b Cheetham 8
M Grogan run out 7
C Humphreys st Brown b Morris 3
S Dawson not out 3
Total (40.4 overs) 142
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-15, 3-30, 4-52, 5-105, 6-113, 7-119, 8-130, 9-137, 10-142
Bowling: L Hurt 13-1-49-4, G Cross 15-2-45-3, S Cheetham 7.4-0-25-1, S Jan 4-0-19-0, D Morris 1-0-3-1
W Davidson b Morley 15
A Holt c Borg b C Humphreys 5
G Cross lbw b S Dawson 37
S Dorsey c Grogan b Pawson 10
D Morris not out 40
J Brown c Hunt b Pawson 27
J Evans not out 2
Total (for 5 wkts, 27.3 overs) 143
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-57, 3-61, 4-100, 5-140
Bowling: S Dawson 8-0-40-1, C Humphreys 4-0-20-1, J Morley 9-1-39-1, D Pawson 6.3-1-43-2
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