Captain Roger Smethurst provided the telling blows yesterday that landed Heywood Seconds their first Burton Cup semi-final place since 1996.
Smethurst is the only survivor of Andy Greenwood’s cup-winning side still plying their trade at Crimble, and it was fitting Smethurst should play such a key role in helping his side overcome Royton and book a home tie in the semi-finals.
With Royton only three down for 122 chasing Heywood’s target of 178, Smethurst brought himself into the attack and helped himself to three wickets, including the key scalp of Callum Hay who was looking good on 50.
With experienced Lee Grogan at the other end, followed by Simon Dawson, wickets began to fall rapidly. Smethurst, the damage done, replaced himself with Curtis Maguire and Royton crumbled to 155 all-out.
That Heywood reached 178 was in itself a major feat as, after a bright start, they slipped to 118-8. Former Heywood all-rounder Mark Woodward did the majority of the damage on a drying wicket, but neither he nor the rest of the visiting attack had counted on the impressive Chris Booth and veteran Rick Purser.
The pair played straight and properly and put on a half century partnership for the ninth wicket. They ran well and frustrated Royton, who thought they had done enough to dismiss Heywood cheaply.
By the time the pair were out they had helped Heywood post a testing target and had taken some of the fight from an ageing Royton team.
Needless to say Smethurst was delighted with the victory, but frustrated with his side’s inability to build on an excellent opening partnership between brothers Phil and Simon Dawson.
“It’s a bit of a familiar theme at the moment, with the lower order coming to our rescue,” said Smethurst.
“Phil and Simon did really well. They took lots of singles, which was something we had talked about as they had seven or so players over the age of 35.
“But Mark Woodward bowled well and we really struggled until Chris and Rick came together.
“They batted properly, ran well and gave us a total which was defendable. It almost finished Rick off.
“When Royton batted they started really slowly as Simon Dawson and Rick gave them nothing to hit, and at one stage they were seven off 10 overs.
“We took wickets when it mattered, we fielded well and our bowlers pulled us through again.
“It’s a massive result for us, we have a home draw in the next round and it’s the first time we have been in a Burton Cup semi-final since 1996.
“It was a great team effort and we competed well right to the end. It was another game we probably would have lost last year.”
The seconds travel to Werneth next week – always a tough trip – and are at home to another tough side in Norden on Sunday.
P Dawson c Clarke b Maxwell 34
S Dawson c M Woodward b Clarke 31
C Maguire lbw Maxwell 2
R Smethurst c Hussain b M Woodward 3
W Hunt c J Punchard b M Woodward 2
L Grogan b Maxwell 7
C Booth b Hay 36
S Burrill lbw M Woodward 1
S Jones c Hussain b M Woodward 3
R Purser b Kay 28
S Byrne not out 4
Total (all out, 49.4 overs) 178
Bowling: A Punchard 10-1-32-0, Hay 9.4-0-32-2, Clarke 10-0-41-1, M Woodward 10-2-17-4, N Maxwell 10-1-42-3.
B Woodward lbw Purser 13
J Punchard lbw Grogan 38
C Hay c Maguire b Smethurst 50
M Woodward b Byrne 8
K Hussain c & b Smethurst 12
J Greaves b Smethurst 4
S Webb b Grogan 0
A Morris b S Dawson 9
A Punchard c Smethurst b Maguire 9
P Clarke not out 1
N Maxwell b Maguire 0
Total (all out, 48 overs) 155
Bowling: Purser 10-3-18-1, S Dawson 8-4-14-1, Maguire 9-0-24-2, Byrne 8-0-47-1, Grogan 10-0-37-2, Smethurst 3-0-11-3.
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