LURGAN went clear at the top of section one with two wins last weekend.
It was a low scoring day in virtually all of the Ulster Bank NCU Section 1 games last Saturday and the game at Pollock Park between Lurgan and Muckamore was no exception.
Recent heavy rain contributed to bowlers getting the upper hand on batsman as the home side earned a hard fought 16 run win over Muckamore. Batting first, Lurgan openers James McCollum and Stephen Johnston made a steady start, the 50 partnership coming up in the 13th over. The score moved on to 66 before the first wicket fell with James McCollum caught out by Magowan off the bowling of Allen for 19.
Skipper Stephen Johnston top scored with 44 off 53 deliveries before he departed with the score on 83 as the town side became bogged down through their middle overs due to some tight bowling by Breet and Kamptekar. Indeed the next five wickets fell for just 37 runs with Stephen Chambers being the only batsman to get past the 20 mark. A spirited 16 by Mark Stinson saw the home side claw their way to 139 for nine wickets after 50 overs. Normally at Pollock Park, a target of 140 would prove difficult to defend, but Lurgan’s opening attack of John Guy and Callum Grieve rose to the challenge. Grieve removed the dangerous Van Der Merwe in the third over for three and John Guy had Drummond caught behind by Stephen Chambers in the next over, again for three.
With the score on 12, Grieve struck again removing Breet for a duck and the visitors were in dire trouble. This brought together professional Kamptekar and Baguley to the centre and they slowly began to repair the damage. At the halfway stage of the Muckamore innings they had moved the score on to 70 for 3 wkts and seemed to be turning the match in favour of the Antrim side. But as so often happens, a break can give the bowling side a chance to regroup, and in the first over after drinks, Kamptekar on 22 nicked a delivery from Paul Stafford through to keeper Chambers to give Lurgan the wicket they badly needed.
Two overs later and Baguley pulled a delivery off Stafford towards the mid wicket boundary, only to see James McCollum scoop up an excellent ankle high catch. Two balls later and Stafford had struck again teasing Thompson into a simple caught and bowled to turn the match and leave Muckamore struggling on 77 for 7 and Lurgan firmly in control.
Skipper Stephen Johnston brought John Guy back and he obliged by successfully claiming two lbw decisions leaving Steven Anderson to finish the match with yet another lbw to bowl out Muckamore for 123. With Downpatrick being beaten at Cliftonville, the win left Lurgan four points clear at the top of Section 1.
Lurgan rounded off a successful weekend with an eight wicket win over Cliftonville at Mallusk on Sunday.
The home side were bowled out for 95 with John Guy and Niranjan Godbole each taking two wickets for 18 runs and Paul Stafford claiming two for 13. The visitors passed the target of 60 in the 24th over with Niranjan Godbole securing an undefeated half century and Stephen Chambers 15 not out. This win pushed Lurgan eight points clear at the top of the table from Woodvale who have a game in hand.