The home side were beaten by 89 runs, bowled out for just 92 chasing Rochdale’s 181.
With Walsden winning, they are now 13 points ahead of Heywood with just four league games to go.
Although it was a disappointing defeat in many ways, the reaction from fans was sanguine. This very young Heywood side has had a wonderful season – with a LCB KO semi-final to come next week.
But with the wonderful season has come increasing pressures. Every game has meant so much over the past three months and there has been no respite. This was yet another meaningful game against a team with lots to prove that looked, to this observer at least, as though it was just a game too much for Bobby Cross’ men.
It effectively hands the title to Walsden, who fully deserve the title should they continue to perform. But it also releases some of the pressure on a very young set of players who have dug in and shown great skill and fortitude in a season when they have been in the hunt for silverware on three fronts.
They have played more games than anyone in the CLL and, being Heywood and one of the top sides in the league for the past decade, they are the prized scalp for so many clubs.
With this out of the way, they can perform with freedom in the remaining matches, and take an unfettered tilt at winning the LCB KO Cup, starting with the semi-final at Northern next Sunday.
Whatever the outcome of that, there is huge pride from all at Crimble in the performances of this team this year and there should be absolutely no disappointment at this defeat and the effective ending of their challenge in the league.
None of this writer’s thoughts should detract from a fine performance from Rochdale, however, and in particular surprise hero Derek Faulkner, who took 5-25.
The right-arm medium-pacer had taken just two wickets prior to this this season, but he bowled like the league’s top wicket taker to rip out Heywood’s top order with some fine swing and seam bowling.
After his side had scored 181 off 49.4 overs, Faulkner wreaked havoc bowling four of the top five in Ross Zelem, Danny Pawson, Travis Townsend and Wes Hunt. Townsend’s dismissal seemed controversial as the umpires conferred over whether the ball had hit the stumps, or the bails had been knocked off by keeper Crabtree. They decided on the former.
At 52-6 there was little hope for Heywood, but Riley Paterson played his most impressive innings for Heywood to date before he was out for 24, and soon Heywood were bowled out for just 92.
Earlier, Humza Naeem picked up two early wickets, while Chris Kaye ended up with 5-71 in Rochdale’s innings. There were fine knocks from Scott Butterworth (49) and veteran skipper Darryl Cryer.
D Ayres b Naeem 3
S Wornes lbw b Naeem 14
W Lansdale c Fawcett b Kaye 22
S Butterworth st Pawson b Lovell 49
G Butterworth c Townsend b Kaye 8
D Faulkner c Cross b Townsend 11
D Cryer c Cross b Kaye 36
K Aughey c Townsend b Kaye 11
L Crabtree b Kaye 3
D Highton st Pawson b Lovell 2
D Britton not out 1
Total (49.4 overs) 181
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-44, 3-44, 4-60, 5-77, 6-139, 7-172, 8-177, 9-178, 10-181
Bowling: Paterson 7-1-24-0, Naeem 7-1-19-2, Kaye 18-1-71-5, Townsend 9-1-29-1, Lovell 8.4-2-29-2
R Cross lbw b S Butterworth 14
R Zelem b Faulkner 2
T Townsend b Faulkner
D Pawson b Faulkner 0
W Hunt b Faulkner 0
R Paterson c G Butterworth b Highton 24
A Dawson c Lansdale b Faulkner 0
J Lovell c Aughey b Highton 14
H Naeem c and b Highton 5
A Fawcett lbw b G Butterworth 4
C Kaye not out 0
Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-21, 3-21, 4-26, 5-50, 6-52, 7-62, 8-84, 9-90, 10-92
Bowling: S Butterworth 12-2-43-1 Faulkner 9-2-25-5 Highton 7-3-13-3 G Butterworth 4-1-9-1
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