VICTORIA Firsts put in a gutsy performance on Saturday when they defeated Cregagh.
Victoria skipper Dave Reiman won the toss and elected to send the opposition into bat. Andy Gray and Jonny Irwin opened the bowling and kept things tight but were unable to get the vital first breakthrough.
Jonny Bunting came on to replace Irwin and in his second over got the wicket the home team were looking for, a sharp catch taken by Iain McDowell at gully. He then took wickets again in his fourth and sixth overs to have the visitors 55 for three wickets after 20 overs.
By drinks Cregagh had got up to 75 without any more wickets. Victoria were fairly satisfied with the first 25 overs but knew there was work to ensure their target was not too high.
Bunting struck again straight after lunch with a slower ball to give the Lurgan men a shot of confidence. Irwin then came back into the attack and was joined by Garry McClune. Irwin picked up the opener who was trying to up the pace but instead skied one to mid-on. McClune then proceeded to rip through the tail taking four wickets in five overs.
Gray also chipped in at the end, taking the final wicket, to have the visitors all out for 143. A great effort in the field from the Victoria men to restrict the Belfast outfit to under 150 and give them a very good chance of posting a second win against Cregagh this season.
Reiman and Robert Black opened the batting for the home team and got off to a steady start, making 47 without loss after 12 overs. They fell in quick succession shortly afterwards to bring Darren Vennard and Bunting to the crease. These two were looking comfortable until Bunting hit one straight back to the bowler though Victoria were still in a good position needing 59 with seven wickets in hand.
Unfortunately for Victoria Gray was bowled soon after and Vennard (25) was caught trying for a big one with the score on 95. This left the run chase in the balance with 49 more runs required and five wickets in hand.
McClune and Matthew Parks were in next, the former in an attacking frame of mind and the latter looking to assist him to the target. However both men were bowled to deliveries that spun back a long way. Irwin was also bowled a couple overs later to leave home team in a precarious position still requiring another 20 runs with only two wickets in hand.
Josh Thornbury and McDowell didn’t allow the nerves to get to them in the tense situation. Thornbury took 11 off an over, including a boundary through point, to bring victory within touching distance. Fittingly Thornbury scored the winning runs in what was a very memorable game.
Where previous Victoria teams may have folded under the pressure this side had the determination to see them through for a gutsy win.