HEYWOOD pulled the match out of the fire to gun down title-chasing Woodbank and give their Greater Manchester Premier League survival hopes a fillip.
The home side, missing three key players, entered the game with few real expectations – at least in the eyes of many of the home supporters – and struggled to 57-5 in the 21st over.
But Danny Pawson, returning to the team after a hand injury, found willing allies in the shape of Wes Hunt and Mikey Grogan as Heywood rallied to 153 all out with just 13 balls left.
That seemed to give the side real belief, and Tom McQuinn stepped forward to claim 5-30 from 11 overs to help reduce the Bury area visitors to 67-8.
Woodbank did limp to 77-8 with 22 overs left before rain washed out play for the day, but Heywood were clearly well in front on the Duckworth-Lewis method and deservedly claimed a vital five-point victory.
Heywood’s early batting efforts were undistinguished as paceman Lewis McIntosh claimed the scalps of Riley Paterson, Travis Townsend, Sean Burrill and Jack Morley.
Only Andy Dawson showed any real spirit before he fell to Nick Murphy for 20. And when Hunt walked out to join Pawson many of the Crimble faithful must have been fearful of the side failing to reach three figures.
But Pawson and Hunt at first grafted hard then prospered later on to forge a sixth-wicket stand of 42 until Hunt succumbed to left-arm spinner Nick Kennedy for a vital contribution of 24, which assumed more authority the longer he was at the crease.
That inspired Grogan to take up the cudgel and add a further 30 with Pawson, the latter completing a fine half-century and growing in confidence backed by the increasing security of his new partner.
A towering legside six took him to 63, but when he tried to repeat the dose next ball he could only smash the ball high into the sky for Gavin Nichol to take a return catch.
That was a pity because there were still almost eight overs left. But Grogan made sure that the revival did not fizzle out completely with a battling 22 as Heywood posted 153 to give their bowlers something to work with. And how McQuinn responded!
There appeared to be a real energy and belief in the field as the Aussie paceman quickly claimed the wickets of openers Nichol and Will Turner with edged shots, and when Pawson weighed in with the scalp of visiting professional Phil Hayes with a loose drive to cover it was 28-3 and game on.
Back came McQuinn to have the highly-rated Harry Dearden slickly taken at second slip by Paterson, his fellow Aussie’s second vital catch in the cordon – and Woodbank did not know what had hit them.
McQuinn completed his five-wicket haul by sending Anthony Harris and Chris Read packing – the latter without offering a shot – and with Morley weighing in with the wicket of John Whitehead it was 53-7 and there was no way back for the visitors.
There was just time for Townsend to have McIntosh caught behind before the rain came and possibly deprived Heywood of the extra point for bowling out the opposition.
But five points were, in reality, a bonus. And if they can continue to show this fight and determination in the remaining five matches they can go forward with confidence.
They are now in the last relegation spot, fourth bottom and one place ahead of Greenmount. So Saturday’s trip to Brandlesholme Road assumes extra significance.
R Paterson c Gowers b McIntosh 1
A Dawson c Whitehead b Murphy 20
T Townsend b McIntosh 5
D Pawson c and b Nichol 63
S Burrill c Gowers b McIntosh 6
J Morley c Gowers b McIntosh 0
W Hunt c McIntosh b Kennedy 24
M Grogan b Read 22
R Smethurst run out 2
T McQuinn not out 1
C Hilton b Read 0
Total (47.5 overs) 153
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-10, 3-28, 4-57, 5-57, 6-99, 7-129, 8-149, 9-153, 10-153
Bowling: L McIntosh 15-4-32-4, N Murphy 8-1-25-1, N Kennedy 15-0-47-1, C Read 6.5-0-28-2, G Nichol 3-0-18-1
W Turner c Paterson b McQuinn 11
G Nichol c Hunt b McQuinn 3
P Hayes c Townsend b Pawson 8
H Dearden c Paterson b McQuinn 5
J Whitehead c McQuinn b Morley 15
A Harris c Hunt b McQuinn 4
L McIntosh c Hunt b Townsend 14
C Read b McQuinn 1
N Murphy not out 4
D Gowers not out 3
Total (for 8 wkts, 28 overs) 77
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-24, 3-28, 4-30, 5-40, 6-48, 7-53, 8-67
Bowling: T McQuinn 11-3-30-5, D Pawson 7-0-21-1, J Morley 7-2-17-1, T Townsend 3-0-7-1
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