They lost by two wickets to a Middleton team who had won only two games this season, and on the back of the highs associated with last week’s Burton Cup victory it’s hard to fathom why so many batsmen played so poorly.
Heywood lost the toss and were made to bat on a wicket that had been flooded overnight.
Sam Byrne, after his cup final heroics, was given a rare chance up the order and despite some initial seam movement for experienced Middleton bowler Gareth Hughes, Byrne and Matt Hood got Heywood off to a solid start, putting on 47 for the first wicket before Hood was out for the second week running loosely driving a ball in the air to cover.
Byrne was caught behind shortly afterwards off Hughes and the Heywood batting then went into freefall.
Adam Fawcett was unlucky to play onto Hughes before Dominic Fawcett was then out lbw to Shahid.
Mikey Grogan was out tamely caught at cover and Heywood were in deep trouble at 64 – 5. Captain Roger Smethurst came in and with Simon Dawson appeared to be repairing the damage before Dawson flicked a ball to square leg off the impressive 15-yr-old Rhys Tierney.
Sean Burrill came in and showed no application in playing a loose shot only three balls into his innings and when Lee Grogan was dismissed a short time later, Heywood were in even deeper trouble at 96 – 8.
Smethurst was playing a patient innings at the other end and when joined by the recently out-of-touch Chris Booth, the pair of them looked like a respectable total could still be set.
However, a spectacular one-handed diving catch by Tierney saw Smethurst depart leaving Rick Purser to try and bring some respectability to the total with Booth.
The pair then put on 27 before Purser was last man out for seven leaving Heywood with a below-par total of 136. This was a batting performance in which only Booth showed the necessary application.
It was evident Heywood would need early wickets if they were to maintain any hope and Purser duly obliged, bowling Lee and then having Tierney caught and bowled.
Heywood appeared back in the game but were well aware that they needed to dismiss the experienced pairing of Hughes and Middleton captain Rob Bennett.
Both were watchful, taking no chances against either Purser, Simon Dawson or Dominic Fawcett as they moved gradually towards their total.
Smethurst tried a variety of bowling changes in search of the breakthrough and eventually Mikey Grogan gave Heywood hope bowling Bennett for a well made 36.
With this, the Heywood senior bowlers were brought back into the attack and Dawson and Lee Grogan picked up wickets.
But they were unable to lead Heywood to victory with Middleton creeping home with nine balls to spare and with eight wickets down.
M Hood c Tierney b Shahid 21
S Byrne lbw b Hughes 19
D Fawcett lbw b Shahid 4
A Fawcett b Hughes 0
M Grogan c Bennett b Shahid 10
S Dawson c Callaghan b Tierney 12
R Smethurst c Tierney b Shaw 15
S Burrill b Tierney 2
L Grogan b Shaw 6
C Booth not out 20
R Purser c Bennett b Lee 7
Total (45.3 overs) 136
Fall of wickets: 1-47, 2-49, 3-49, 4-59, 5-64, 6-83, 7-85, 8-96, 9-109, 10-136
Bowling: Hughes 15-6-24-2, Callaghan 9-1-31-0, Shahid 7-0-28-3, Tierney 6-1-15-2, Shaw 8-0-31-2, Lee 0.3-0-0-1
M Lee b Purser 5
R Tierney c and b Purser 9
G Hughes lbw b Dawson 47
R Bennett b M Grogan 36
P Foden b L Grogan 10
M Collins c Purser b Dawson 3
G Porter run out 4
C Callaghan not out 4
C Shaw lbw b L Grogan 0
B Shahid not out 2
Total (for 8 wkts, 48.4 overs) 137
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-27, 3-98, 4-115, 5-127, 6-131, 7-132, 8-133
Bowling: Purser 15-7-21-2, L Grogan 11.4-1-42-2, Dawson 9-2-18-2, D Fawcett 6-0-19-0, Byrne 3-0-12-0, M Grogan 4-0-15-1
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