Heywood’s third team made the trip to Walshaw for their final league match of the season knowing that victory would leave them in a share of top spot in the table and likely be crowned champions based on countback for most victories.
The wicket looked good with a close cut outfield and a high scoring game looked to be on the cards. Heywood unfortunately lost the toss and Walshaw, who themselves had an outside chance of winning the league, chose to bat first. It turned out to be a bad toss to lose and Walshaw took advantage of the good conditions by getting off to a flier with J Allum, who opens the batting for the first team, in particular batting aggressively and punishing anything lose to maximum effect.
Connor McNally and Matt Dearden were brought into the attack and both struck early in their spells with a wicket apiece to leave Walshaw on 63-2 after 12 overs. Allum was still there however and he was joined by the equally aggressive D Holland and the pair really put the young Heywood attack to the sword, sharing a partnership of 90 in just 7 overs before skipper David Hilton brought himself into the attack and removed Holland with his first ball for 37. There was no respite however and Allum continued hitting the ball to all parts until Joey O’Neill, bowling for the first time this season had him well caught on the boundary by McNally for a punishing 151 off just 78 balls with the score on 238.
This proved to be the beginning of the end as O’Neill together with the returning Graeme Taylor polished off the remainder of the batsmen, with the latter benefitting from a wonderful running catch taken by Dan Openshaw. O’Neill finished with the remarkable figures of 4 wickets for 5 runs off 4.3 overs whilst Taylor finished with 3 for 49 off 7 overs. Walshaw finished on 257 having lost their last 7 wickets for just 19 runs leaving Heywood wondering what might have happened had they been able to remove Allum early.
It was a big ask but Matt Hood and Matt Dearden got the team off to a steady start before Dearden fell for 9 with the score on 36 in the 8th over. Hood was joined by Openshaw and the partnership began to give Heywood hope of pulling off an unlikely victory with both players batting confidently, rotating the strike and hitting anything loose to the boundary. Disaster struck in the 24th over when Hood was caught behind for an excellent 67 off 69 balls and not long after Openshaw fell for an equally good 44 off 63 balls and Heywood were on 135-3 in the 27th over.
Despite the excellent reply, the score was still behind the asking rate and a few big overs were needed. The batting order was re-jigged to get some of the hitters in early but it didn’t quite come off and Heywood finished on 209 all out with one ball to go, with Tom George and Connor McNally making notable contributions of 23 and 19 respectively. Still, this was Heywood’s highest score of the season and the young side didn’t go down without a fight.
So the league season has come to an end and the young improving team has come out of it with great credit having beaten every side once and competed well in the games that they lost. The club has rightly stuck by it’s policy of setting up the team each week largely made up from juniors with support and guidance from a small number of seniors, with emphasis on giving the juniors a chance and this will surely pay off in the long run.
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