HEYWOOD dodged a bullet as they went back to the top of Division One in the Greater Manchester League.
A rain-affected game reduced to 30-overs-per-side saw them contain bottom-of-the-table Winton to 112-8, a target that seemed comfortable to the home supporters – and maybe the team.
But both were in for a rude awakening as the spirited visitors, belying their lowly position, pushed Heywood right to the wire.
Andy Kerr led the run chase with 39, although his gritty contribution underlined that batting was never easy on a difficult wicket, and he lost Wes Hunt for four, Bobby Cross for two and Jack Morley for seven before he himself was fourth man out with the total on 64.
More worryingly, the run rate was creeping up all the time and when Danny Pawson came in next – intriguingly dropping himself to No 6 in the order – the asking rate was almost six-per-over.
The skipper realised that his side needed to shake off the pressure asserted by the Winton bowlers, led by an admirable spell of 2-22 from nine overs by Darren Carter.
Yet he perished for just six from seven balls – caught slicing a catch to point trying to break the stranglehold – and nervousness spread through the ranks on and off the field.
Sean Burrill went to his first ball, and when Andy Dawson fell for seven 11 runs later Heywood were 84-7 staring a costly defeat in the face with just five overs left and still 29 runs needed.
But they found a late order saviour in the shape of Simon Dawson, who provided professional Travis Townsend with the impetus and support that the side desperately needed.
The fully committed Dawson typically took the attack to the Winton bowling with aggressive strokeplay and zealous running, and with Townsend battling hard at the other end the tide was gradually turned.
So much so that, although Dawson was dropped from the penultimate ball of the 29th over, victory was in sight. Just two runs were need from the final over and the duo saw it through with four balls to spare, Townsend finishing with a vital 21 and Dawson crucially 14 from 15 balls.
Earlier, Winton themselves had struggled to set what seemed like a competitive total, with 15-year-old Cabhan Hilton given the new ball and responding with a creditable 1-15 from five overs.
Kate Cross followed up with a six-over spell of 3-18, and with Morley chipping in with two late wickets the Winton total of 112 looked somewhat below par.
How wrong we all were!
K Humphrys c and b K Cross 17
R Brown c Morley b Hilton 0
C Hayes b K Cross 19
M Seenan lbw b K Cross 22
T Derbyshire lbw b Morley 23
J Nixon st R Cross b A Dawson 0
D Holden c Kerr b Morley 17
D Carter run out 6
D Marchment not out 1
Total (for 8 wkts, 30 overs) 112
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-28, 3-44, 4-71, 5-72, 6-102, 7-106, 8-112
Bowling: A Dawson 9-0-21-0, C Hilton 5-0-15-1, K Cross 6-0-18-3, A Dawson 6-0-39-1, J Morley 4-0-14-2
A Kerr b Seenan 39
W Hunt c Brown b Carter 2
R Cross b Carter 4
J Morley run out 7
T Townsend not out 21
D Pawson c Hayes b Humphrys 6
S Burrill b Seenan 0
A Dawson c and b Seenan 7
S Dawson not out 14
Total (for 7 wkts, 29.2 overs) 113
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-25, 3-54, 4-64, 5-73, 6-73, 7-84
Bowling: D Marchment 6-0-27-0, D Carter 9-2-22-2, M Seenan 9-0-41-3, K Humphrys 5.2-0-17-1
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