After two heavy defeats, the return of captain Roger Smethurst and all-rounder Lee Grogan saw Heywood Seconds return to their best form at home to Middleton on Saturday.
Smethurst top scored with 56 and Grogan picked up 2-27 as Heywood eased to a 106-run victory against the struggling Moonrakers.
Heywood won the toss and decided to bat, with Smethurst and Matt Hood making good use of a decent wicket, although there was some seam movement from opening bowler Gareth Hughes.
However in a partnership involving a lot of running, in going for a sharp single Smethurst sustained a groin injury that resulted in him calling for a runner and later made him unavailable for the following day’s game.
After bringing up the Seconds’ first opening 100-run partnership of the season, Smethurst reached 50 shortly afterwards before, on 56, he was trapped lbw by talented 15-year-old Middleton bowler Rhys Tierney.
The pair had put on 116 and with 20 overs remaining Heywood seemed in a position to push on and put a substantial total together.
However, Hood holed out shortly afterwards, caught at cow corner for a well-made 47, Dominic Fawcett was caught behind for a duck and Joey O’Neill also fell for a duck, leaving Heywood on 116-4 in the space of three overs.
Mikey Grogan and Simon Dawson set about repairing the damage and with good running between the wickets and aggressive strokeplay the pair put on 51 before Dawson was out.
Chris Booth fell without really troubling the scorers and it was left to Lee Grogan to help brother Mikey take Heywood to a position of respectability before Mikey was out for a well-made 44.
Sean Burrill’s recent struggles continued in the quest for quick runs, before Lee Grogan was then dismissed for a 20 leaving Heywood to finish on a creditable 222-9.
In reply, Middleton lost two early wickets as Fawcett, opening the bowling with veteran Rick Purser still recovering from injury, bowled a tight line to remove Middleton opener Tierney before then getting the dangerous Middleton captain Rob Bennett caught behind.
With Lee Grogan bowling tightly at the other end Middleton were never really in the game despite Gareth Hughes playing a number of good looking shots in his 32.
Heywood continued to take wickets with both Sam Byrne and Simon Dawson helping themselves to three apiece before Grogan returned to take the final wicket to bowl Middleton out for 116.
Smethurst said: “This was a much improved performance from Heywood after their troubles of recent weeks.
“The team batted sensibly despite a mid-innings collapse, giving the bowlers something to play with.
“We were later bouyed with the news that both Walsden and Rochdale had lost meaning that this result pulled us back onto the outer fringes of the championship race.”
M Hood c Hughes b Shaw 47
R Smethurst lbw b Tierney 56
D Fawcett c Bennett b Shaw 0
J O’Neill c Tierney b Bennett 0
S Dawson c Burrows b Bennett 25
M Grogan b Bennett 44
C Booth run out 3
L Grogan c Tierney b Copeland 20
S Burrill c Collins b Copeland 2
S Byrne not out 2
S Jones not out 1
Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs) 222
Fall of wickets: 1-116, 2-116, 3-116, 4-116, 5-167, 6-173, 7-217, 8-217, 9-219
Bowling: Hughes 10-0-28-0, Copeland 13-0-73-2, Shaw 12-0-51-2, Tierney 6-1-19-1, Bennett 9-1-46-3
A Copeland c Booth b L Grogan 17
R Tierney c M Grogan b Fawcett 2
R Bennett c Jones b Fawcett 0
G Hughes lbw b Byrne 32
P Foden lbw b Dawson 3
M Collins c Booth b Byrne 21
G Porter b Dawson 0
D Stanley b Dawson 7
C Shaw not out 6
R Ball lbw b Byrne 0
M Burrows b L Grogan 11
Total (42.2 overs) 116
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-7, 3-43, 4-62, 5-62, 6-63, 7-73, 8-97, 9-97, 10-116
Bowling: L Grogan 11.2-3-27-2, Fawcett 12-3-23-2, Dawson 8-0-27-3, Byrne 10-1-31-3, M Grogan 1-0-4-0
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