TOM McQuinn inspired Heywood to their first away victory of the Greater Manchester Premier League season at the halfway point of the campaign.
The big Aussie paceman claimed 7-32 to topple Clifton for 133 in reply to Heywood’s total of 173 at the Manchester Road venue.
And that was certainly a welcome boost for the visitors in their bid to preserve their Premier status, and one that was not totally expected at the halfway stage.
Heywood had lost their last seven wickets for just 20 runs on a ground notorious for fast scoring and big totals, and Clifton boasted a powerful top order batting line-up.
But the Heywood attack, led manfully by McQuinn and supported well in the field, responded in determined style.
Danny Pawson made the initial breakthrough by trapping Will Davidson lbw with the score 19. Then McQuinn took over.
He cleaned up the stumps of Adam Holt without further addition to the score, claimed the vital wicket of home professional Gareth Cross trying to play a big shot over cover, then had Joe McCann caught at slip by Bobby Cross – the latter making the first of three vital contributions in the field.
At 58-4, Heywood were sensing that their time had come. But they still faced a big stumbling block in the shape of 17-year-old Sam Dorsey, like Heywood’s Jack Morley called into the Lancashire Academy during the winter.
Dorsey had looked classy and composed since going to the crease at 19-2 and appeared to be capable of steering his side home when joined by another young talent in Dan Ainscough.
McQuinn had by now been rested from the attack after an initial eight-over stint and it was left to a fine piece of fielding by Cross to end a threatening 34-run stand. Dorsey called for a quick single with a push to short mid-wicket, but Cross swooped swiftly to collect the ball and his underarm throw broke the stumps to leave Ainscough clearly out of his ground.
Now 92-5 and still Clifton looked well in the game as James Evans ended up being another promising ally for Dorsey.
But McQuinn was brought back on to the scene to administer what proved to be the last rites.
The vital break came when Dorsey clipped a drive from the Aussie to mid-wicket where Cross took a fine low catch, and the youngster had to go for 53 after a partnership of 31.
Heywood needed no further encouragement. Skipper Travis Townsend trapped Evans lbw, then McQuinn cleaned up the tail of Jim Ainscough (caught behind), Robert Lord (lbw) and Danny Hill (bowled) to clinch a 40-run victory.
Earlier, Heywood looked set to post a score in excess of 200 – which seemed to be needed after winning the toss – when Pawson was joined by Townsend in the middle with the total 64-3.
They put together a stand of 89 before Gareth Cross, recalled to the attack at the Manchester Road end, wiped out the visitors’ lower order batting line-up.
Pawson was run out for 48, and Townsend was bowled by Cross for 47 six runs later.
And the home professional cashed in with a display of accurate medium-pace bowling to trap Andy Dawson lbw first ball and followed up by clean bowling Riley Paterson, Sean Burrill and McQuinn – Dale Latham having become a second run-out victim in between.
So Heywood have at last broken their away jinx and can travel to champions Flixton with renewed optimism next Saturday.
R Cross c Davidson b Ahmed 27
A Kerr lbw b Ahmed 12
M Witts c Evans b Lord 0
D Pawson run out 48
T Townsend b Cross 47
R Paterson b Cross 0
A Dawson lbw b Cross 0
S Burrill b Cross 12
D Latham run out 1
M Grogan not out 0
T McQuinn b Cross 0
Total (44 overs) 173
Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-29, 3-64, 4-153, 5-159, 6-159, 7-167, 8-173, 9-173, 10-173
Bowling: G Cross 9-0-33-5, M Ahmed 15-0-71-2, R Lord 7-0-26-1, W Davidson 13-1-36-0
W Davidson lbw b Pawson 8
A Holt b McQuinn 5
G Cross c Townsend b McQuinn 5
S Dorsey c Cross b McQuinn 53
J McCann c Cross b McQuinn 4
D Ainscough run out 14
J Evans lbw b Townsend 13
J Ainscough c Latham b McQuinn 1
M Ahmed not out 6
R Lord lbw b McQuinn 1
D Hill b McQuinn 1
Total (36.2 overs) 133
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-19, 3-49, 4-58, 5-92, 6-123, 7-123, 8-127, 9-131, 10-133
Bowling: T McQuinn 12.2-4-32-7, D Pawson 10-0-40-1, T Townsend 10-0-31-1, R Paterson 4-0-23-0
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