Lurgan scramble vital win to hold off late Ballymena surge

Lurgan clawed their way to a vital two wicket win against Ballymena at Eaton Park last Saturday after a tense finish which saw James McCollum scrambling the winning run off the third last ball after the town side seemed to be cruising to victory.

Lurgan’s winning of the toss proved vital as the wicket proved slow with the occasional delivery keeping low. Opening bowlers Charley Crasborn and John Guy struck early, removing both Ballymena’s opening batsmen Montgomery (8) and James Kennedy (7). This brought David Kennedy to the crease and the Ballymena stalwart was trapped lbw by Paul Stafford for 2 to leave the home side on 41 for 3 and Lurgan in early control. The town bowlers continued to dominate and when the sixth wicket went down, the home side were struggling on 119 in the 42nd over. Robert Kennedy joined Taylor in the middle and they added an undefeated 62 for the 7th wicket to leave the home side with a respectable 181 for 6 after their 50 overs, a score that seemed unlikely earlier in the innings.

Paul Stafford was the pick of the Lurgan bowlers, his 10 overs yielding only 19 runs while claiming the valuable wicket of David Kennedy. Andrew Bingham had 2 for 40 off 8 overs, Charley Crasborn 2 for 34 off 10, John Guy 1 for 43 off 10, Stephen Leckey 0 for 20 off 7 and Niranjan Godbole 0 for 23 off 5.

Against Ballymena at Pollock Park, Lurgan openers Stephen Johnston and Niranjan Godbole amassed a partnership of 162 and this time the home side chose a mixture of spin and pace bowling in an effort to thwart a repeat. However Glass and Lazars both bowled too many loose deliveries and these were dispatched to the boundary by the Town duo. Lurgan were scoring at 7 an over at this stage but with the score on 70, skipper Johnston tried to repeat a boundary scored the previous ball only to be bowled by a delivery from Aphale for 37. The in-form Stephen Chambers joined Godbole and both scored freely. At drinks Lurgan were 120 for 1, needing 62 to win of 25 overs with 9 wickets in hand. However at 124, Ballymena’s McDowell snapped up a brilliant caught and bowled to dismiss Godbole for 55. Their bowling became more accurate, Taylor in particular being difficult to get away, and with the score on 152, Jamie Holmes was lbw trying to sweep Lazars. Runs were drying up and some brilliant catching had the visitors going into the last over needing three to win and only two wickets in hand. An overthrow and two scrambled singles saw Lurgan home.