A youthful Heywood Seconds side showed real skill before going down to league champions Walsden on Sunday at Scott Street.
They posted a total of 177-7 against a strong attack and, had chances been taken and Heywood’s young attack not been affected by limitations on their spells, they could have defended this total.
As it was, Walsden chased it down with six overs to spare to deservedly win the Second XI Premier title.
Heywood went to Scott Street with a much changed team from the cup match of three weeks earlier, and having won the toss, captain Roger Smethurst decided to bat in a game that could see Walsden win the league.
Accurate bowling from the Walsden opening pair of Harlow and Illingworth soon saw Heywood in trouble with Hood caught off a leading edge and Smethurst playing on to Harlow, who was bowling a pacy opening spell.
Tom Blundell, batting at three, looked to have steadied the ship and had moved to 18 when he was caught trying to cut.
Ben Thulborn had looked in good touch on his way to 14 that included a six to the short leg-side boundary, but was then out to a spectacular one-handed catch by Illingworth.
Adam Fawcett played a sensible innings and looked in no trouble. He was joined by Mikey Grogan, who played an aggressive innings that included a couple of sixes to push Heywood towards a respectable total.
Unfortunately, Grogan was out on caught on the edge going for one shot to many for 35, Booth quickly followed caught behind and when Fawcett played on to the returning Harlow, who would undoubtedly be playing 1st team cricket at any other club in the league, the Heywood innings looked like it might be on the verge of subsiding.
However sensible batting from Sean Burrill and Dominic Fawcett saw Heywood eventually reach 177-7, a total that the team were relatively satisfied with in the face of some excellent Walsden bowling and favourable conditions.
With Heywood missing three of the bowlers who had helped win the Burton Cup on the same ground three weeks earlier, under 15s player James Mills was given an opportunity to open the bowling, fresh from his success for the thirds against Walsden the day before.
Mills claimed the first Walsden wicket when he clean bowled Ryan Howley and this brought Cameron Hanson to the crease to join his father Stuart.
The pair started to build a steady partnership, when on 12, Cameron offered a golden opportunity to Matt Hood fielding at square leg, who was unable to hold on to what appeared a straightforward chance.
Heywood were made to pay for this error as Hanson jnr went on to play a match-winning knock of 68 being particularly savage on Purser, hitting him repeatedly to the short leg side boundary, despite losing his father, who was well caught by Blundell at mid-on off Dominic Fawcett.
Hanson jnr eventually fell LBW to the final ball of Purser’s spell after an aggressive innings. Smethurst continued to juggle his bowlers, hampered by Fawcett and Mills being restricted in the number of overs they could bowl.
Mills returned and for the second time in the weekend clean bowled Dan Howley, but this was to be Heywood’s final success as Kris Halstead played a sensible innings of 51 to see Walsden home with six overs to spare.
On reflection, Heywood were probably 30 short of what would have been a competitive target but were left wondering what might have been if Hood had taken the opportunity offered by Hanson.
The youthful Heywood attack stuck to its task well, with Mills, in only his second game, picking up two wickets and bowling tightly while Dominic Fawcett showed again that he is now a key member of the Heywood attack.
Smethurst said: “This was a good showing from a weakened side and it was pleasing to see some different faces playing a key role in the game.
“Mikey Grogan played well and got good support from Adam Fawcett, and it bodes well for the club that we had two under-15′s players in the team and neither of them looked out of place in second team cricket against the strongest side in the league.”
M Hood c Bailey b Harlow 5
R Smethurst b Harlow 4
T Blundell c Brown b M Halstead 18
B Thulborn c Illingworth b M Halstead 14
A Fawcett b Harlow 20
M Grogan c Marrow b M Halstead 35
C Booth c Harlow b S Hanson 3
D Fawcett not out 18
S Burrill not out 15
Total (for 7 wkts, 50 overs) 177
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-22, 3-39, 4-61, 5-121, 6-129, 7-132
Bowling: Illingworth 15-4-49-0, Harlow 15-4-31-3, S Hanson 10-1-37-1, M Halstead 9-1-46-3, C Hanson 1-0-7-0
R Howley b Mills 5
S Hanson c Blundell b D Fawcett 23
C Hanson lbw b Purser 68
K Halstead not out 51
D Howley b Mills 7
D Bailey not out 17
Total (for 4 wkts, 43.5 overs) 178
Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-55, 3-102, 4-130
Bowling: Purser 15-3-56-1, Mills 12-0-45-2, D Fawcett 8.5-2-24-1, Blundell 5-0-39-0, M Grogan 3-0-12-0
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