Victoria Seconds took on Ballymena Fourths on Saturday in what was only their second game of a weather affected season.
After winning the toss Victoria invited the home teamto bat, allowing the new ball pair of Cameron Lyness and Jordan Walsh to bowl.
Walsh took a wicket in his first over, following a tight over from Lyness. Jordan Walsh was again rewarded for his tight spell as a second wicket fell in his 4th over. His finishing figures of 2 for 31 off 7 overs were impressive and could have been even more so had a couple of dropped catches been taken.
Darren Vennard had come on to replace Lyness and after he also suffered the misfortune of a couple of dropped catches he finally got his reward, doing the work himself with his victim clean bowled.
Joined by the experienced David McDowell the two spinners put a stranglehold on the Ballymena innings. Both bowlers were rewarded, with McDowell taking wickets in his first two overs, while Vennard finally got the better of dangerous Ballymena batsman Johnny Wilson, caught on the boundary by Adam McClelland trying one big hit too many.
Figures of 2-27 and 2-15 for Vennard and McDowell respectively do some justice to the superb job they did.
Ballymena enjoyed a steady 7th wicket partnership which took them almost to the end of the innings before yet more slow bowling did the trick for the Lurgan men, Glenn Thompson picking up a couple of wickets in his penultimate over.
With Ballymena seeing off the last couple of overs they finished on 146 for 8.
The Victoria reply didn’t get the start they would have liked with skipper Robert Black going for a duck. Fellow opener Darren Vennard, along with his slow bowling compatriot Glenn Thompson, added 56 to the score before Vennard (30) fell, finally being caught, after a towering innings which included several lofty blows.
Glenn Thompson went four overs later for 28, an innings which almost match Vennard’s for big hitting.
With the normally impressive Adam McClelland and Cameron Lyness falling quickly, Victoria started to get nervous they might fall short. Andrew Dawson and Jordan Walsh did much to calm those nerves.
Dawson kept going with some intelligent stroke play before falling LBW for 23, with 26 needed, seven wickets down and only six overs left.
A tense finish ensued as David Gilpin was joined at the crease by David McDowell who scampering the singles while some exquisite strokes from Gilpin belied the situation.
The game went to the final over with five still needed but two off the first ball, followed by a single, from Gilpin helped almost get Victoria home.
An extra, followed by a McDowell single got Victoria over the line.