REPORT BY ROGER SMETHURST: Heywood Seconds lost both their games this weekend, but against the two top sides, things could, perhaps, have been different.
The seconds travelled to second placed Walsden with a much-depleted side that saw former chairman David Fare dragged out of retirement and 13 year old Jack Morley given his second team debut.
Having won the toss on a gloomy day Heywood elected to bat and were in early trouble when Matt Hood’s run of poor form continued when he was run out without scoring and Dominik Fawcett followed soon after bowled by the experienced Mark Halstead.
Ray Baker had looked untroubled in making 20 when he gave Halstead his second wicket, hitting a catch to cover, and when Mikey Grogan was trapped lbw by the same bowler Heywood were in trouble at 59 – 4.
Experience was in no short supply at the crease as Mark Wright was joined by Roger Smethurst and the pair set about rebuilding the innings. Wright in particular played some aggressive shots before falling in Halstead’s penultimate over, well caught at long on for 36.
It was then left for Smethurst to shepherd the tail through to a respectable total and this was managed with first Keelan Nugent and then James Mills making useful runs as Heywood closed on 175 – 9 with Smethurst unbeaten on 58.
Walsden are known for their attacking approach to batting and it wasn’t long before chances were offered with Jack Hanson being dropped by both Smethurst and Wright in quick succession before Mikey Grogan then dropped a difficult chance off Howley.
These missed opportunities were to prove costly as Hanson then savaged the Heywood attack hitting 85 in quick time before falling to Dominik Fawcett, who in the meantime had also managed to snare Howley.
However Walsden showed no signs of letting up and Cameron Hanson took up the scoring rate hitting 49 not out in guiding his side to victory with almost 15 overs to spare.
On paper this appeared a hammering for a weakened Heywood side but in truth if early chances had been taken who knows what effect this would have had upon the games outcome with all four of Heywood’s bowlers putting in commendable performances in testing conditions.
On Sunday few could have predicted the drama that would befall Crimble on a day of blustery showers.
The seconds tough weekend continued when they entertained top of the table Norden at Crimble.
Despite the away team missing a couple of players they still fielded a strong line up and Heywood took the field expecting another testing day.
In contrast to the previous day Heywood held their catches and the previously unlucky James Mills found himself with two early wickets, with Rick Purser picking up a third. Where in previous matches Heywood had let opportunities slip Dominik Fawcett entered the attack and maintained the pressure picking up the impressive Udwadia and the dangerous Humphreys.
Norden had slumped to 54 – 5 and were in further trouble when Mills returned to the attack and trapped Norden captain Morrell lbw.
Despite a brief partnership between Dean Lord and James Harrison, Mills and Mikey Grogan then wrapped up the Norden innings for 116 with Mills returning his first 5 wicket haul of the season in finishing with 5 – 35. All four Heywood bowlers played their part in this performance and for once were backed up with some solid fielding with Nugent, Mills and Burrill all taking impressive catches.
In response to the Norden total Heywood again lost an early wicket when Hood was bowled and despite losing Ray Baker the home side appeared in control with Sean Burrill and Mark Wright at the crease.
When Burrill unexpectedly fell for 36, Wright continued with the Heywood run chase and despite losing Mikey Grogan cheaply was then joined by Mark Kenny as the home side got in touching distance of a much needed victory.
However with Norden having all but given up hope, rain intervened and the players were forced to leave the field.
This rejuvenated the Norden side who, on their return, reintroduced Dean Lord into the attack. It was Norden captain Paul Morrell who struck the first blow when Wright misjudged a delivery in trying to hit to Crimble’s open spaces and was bowled for 26 before Dominik Fawcett was out soon after comprehensively stumped for a duck.
Lord then took a grip of the game in a excellent spell of bowling where his prime aim was to hit the stumps.
Mark Kenny was cleaned bowled for 18 before Nugent and Mills followed shortly afterwards, both lbw without troubling the scoreboard, and when Rick Purser followed second ball for a duck Heywood were left contemplating how they had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Returning to the field Heywood lost their last 6 wickets for 7 runs in 5 overs to leave the away side jubilant.
This weekend, Heywood face a crucial game away at Littleborough, where a victory would all but seal the clubs safety in the top division.
Defeat, on the other hand, could leave the seconds with a nervy run which sees them entertain Rochdale at Crimble on Sunday.
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