YOU can’t accuse Heywood of making life easy for themselves!
They slipped back into the bottom four danger zone of the Manchester Premier League with a Jekyll and Hyde 33-run defeat to fellow strugglers Denton St Lawrence.
And that leaves them possibly needing to win their last two games, away to bottom club Denton West next Saturday and at home to Clifton the following week, to preserve their status.
But they had a chance to put distance between themselves and the Saints when reducing the visitors to 69-6 at Crimble before subconsciously seeming to take their foot off the accelerator.
Even at 114-8 the visitors were in dire trouble and looking unlikely to set Heywood a challenging total.
But Ben Tighe was joined by Gareth Burns and they forged a crucial ninth-wicket partnership of 66 from almost 13 overs to post what had seemed an unlikely total of 180.
Momentum is often talked about as being a key factor in sport, and the rejuvenated Saints were clearly buoyant and the home side looking flat as the teams left the field at the tea break.
The Denton side appeared as though they had been given a new lease of life and resumed with an intensity in the field that Heywood appeared to have lost.
So much so that the locals were reduced to 79-7 and looking odds-on to slip to a six-point defeat before their late batting order managed to salvage something from the wreckage.
The rally was again spearheaded by Wes Hunt, with creditable support from Simon Dawson and Mikey Grogan, eyeing a score of 135 to claim a bonus point for reaching three-quarters of the opposition total the only plausible incentive.
Dawson again revealed his energy and intent with 21 from 25 balls, but it still did not look enough when he eventually perished and Grogan joined Hunt at 105-8.
Yet the ninth-wicket pair showed what could be done with determination and application to put together an unbroken stand of 42 and limit the damage to a four-point margin – five for the Saints in victory, and one for the home side.
There were bright spots for Heywood. Their bowlers toiled manfully in the first two-thirds of the Saints innings before wilting in the later stages of the scheduled 50 overs, and it was therefore a surprise that skipper Travis Townsend did not introduce himself into the attack – with his wicket-to-wicket style and the ‘keeper up to the stumps – when the tide started to turn.
Yet Heywood’s top-order batting in reply was a severe letdown as Bobby Cross, Townsend, Danny Pawson, Sean Burrill and Jack Morley all failed to reach double figures.
Andy Dawson, again promoted to open the innings in the absence of Andy Kerr, showed some resolve in a third-wicket partnership of 38 with Riley Paterson.
But once Paterson fell lbw for 11 and Dawson for 21 with the score 55 the rot really set in, and it was left to the tail to again wag in a salvage operation.
Hunt finished on 31 and rarely looked troubled, Grogan supported him admirably with 18, and that spirited rally yielding the bonus point could yet be crucial come the final reckoning.
DENTON ST LAWRENCE
L Parkinson b Morley 26
R Waterhouse b S Dawson 2
S Kirwin lbw b Pawson 20
A Hawley c Paterson b McQuinn 0
L Jayakody c Hunt b Pawson 2
K O’Reilly c Pawson b Morley 2
M Dillnutt c Hunt b Pawson 16
B Tighe not out 52
M Hawley b S Dawson 7
G Burns not out 29
Total (for 8 wkts, 50 overs) 180
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-43, 3-44, 4-48, 5-68, 6-69, 7-92, 8-114
Bowling: T McQuinn 13-5-41-1, S Dawson 14-2-58-2, D Pawson 11-2-38-3, J Morley 12-3-38-2
R Cross c Dillnutt b Kirwin 7
A Dawson c Parkinson b K O’Reilly 21
T Townsend lbw b Kirwin 0
R Paterson lbw b Williams 11
D Pawson c A Hawley b O’Reilly 8
S Burrill c Tighe b Williams 0
J Morley b Williams 8
W Hunt not out 31
S Dawson k Kirwin 21
M Grogan not out 18
Total (for 8 wkts, 50 overs) 147
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-17, 3-55, 4-55, 5-56, 6-76, 7-79, 8-105
Bowling: S Kirwin 11-2-57-3, G Burns 6-2-13-0, J Williams 13-3-17-3, K O’Reilly 15-3-29-2, M Dillnutt 3-0-16-0, B Tighe 2-0-10-0
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