A young Heywood 3rd team visited Tottington St Johns on Sunday.
The home side won the toss and elected to bat first. They were aggressive from the start on a quick firm wicket which also benefitted from a very short boundary to one side.
Tom George was firey from ball one pushing batsman, keeper (returning skipper J McCulloch snr) and slips back from the off. Ethan Clarkson fell victim to the short boundary seeing early shots sail to the fence where on Crimble they would be catching chances just outside the ring.
The youngsters shared the first 14 overs and kept the score to a respectable 4 an over with Tom taking the first wicket (a fine lunging catch from McNally) with the score on 49. Tom would go on to return fine figures of 2-18 off 9 overs with no batter looking comfortable facing him.
Tottington continued to score consistently without really getting away. Thomas Pagett and Connor McNally shared the next 13 overs, both beating the bat regularly with Pagett claiming the next wicket when the score was on 102. James Leadbetter and Matt Dearden bowled the next Heywood spell before Tom George finished with a 2 over blast. Leadbetter came into the attack and snared a wicket as the batters pushed on for late runs. Ethan Clarkson claiming a smart run out in-between. Tottington edged themselves to a competitive 185-5 after their 40 overs.
In reply more of Heywood’s youth strode to the crease in the form of Dan Openshaw and Matt Dearden and they set about the run chase with confidence. The pair shared an opening stand of 60 before Dearden fell for 13. Both young batsmen reaping the praise of Tottington 1st teamers and members from the sidelines. Connor McNally came in next and he and Dan Openshaw carried the fight to the hosts with a stand of 87 taking Heywood to 147-2.
Openshaw went on to secure his maiden senior 50. He pushed on elegantly and would fall agonisingly short of a century with an outstanding 93. His runs coming from all parts of the ground, however it was his delightful cover drives that drew the loudest applause. His wicket only as a consequence of fatigue and having to force the run rate. There were only 4 overs remaining when Leadbetter came to the crease and he helped up the run rate before McNally fell for a hard faught 28. Clarkson joined Leadbetter but the pair were unable to get Heywood over the line, falling 5 runs short with Leadbetter finishing with 26 not out.
It was an agonising defeat but one that the youthful side will take heart from and with the benefit of experience it may see them find a different result under similar circumstances in the future. They will go into their next game full of confidence and showing signs that they are gelling nicely as a group despite their tender years.
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