TWO strong performances for Lurgan over the bank holiday weekend has saw them move one step closer to the Senior League 1 title and with that, promotion back to the top flight of the NCU.
On Saturday, Cliftonville were the visitors to Pollock Park and Lurgan came away with an 8 wickets win and the four points.
Due to heavy rain through the week, play was delayed due to the bowlers run ups being deemed dangerous by the umpires but when it did eventually get underway at 2.00pm the game was reduced to 39 overs.
Lurgan skipper Stephen Johnston won the toss and elected to bowl first. This proved to be the right decision as Lurgan got off to a great start with Callum Grieve picking up the wicket of Cliftonville opener David Manual with the score on just 13. Following their poor start, the Cliftonville batsmen did begin to settle and had pushed the score onto 52 by the 17th over for the loss of just one wicket before the introduction of the Lurgan spin bowlers, Stafford, Bingham and Godbole. The three bowled brilliantly as a team, taking 9 Cliftonville wickets and conceding just 26 runs between them. Andrew Bingham returned with the best figures for the town side with 6 for 15 from his 8 overs and with that will collect an Ulster Bank Award.
Niranjan bowled a fantastic spell and returned with 2 wickets for just 4 runs from his 8 overs and Paul Stafford finished with a very economical spell of 1 for 13 also from 8 overs.
The Cliftonville innings eventually came to an end in the 37th over after some resistance from the tail end with the score on 76.
Following the interval, Lurgan got off to a shaky start as they lost the wicket of skipper Stephen Johnston with the score on just 11 after 3 overs. This however, brought a determined Niranjan Godbole to the crease and he set about getting the runs in a quick fashion finishing on 55 not out from 46 balls. Lurgan went on to pass the Cliftonville total of 76 for the lose of 2 wickets in the 12th over to win by a convincing 8 wickets.
In the second match of the weekend for the 1st Xl, Dundrum were the visitors on Sunday in a rearranged 20 over game.
This time under glorious sunshine, which has been somewhat of a rare sight this season, Lurgan won the toss and opted to bowl first following their success with the ball the previous day.
Dundrum raced off as they attacked the new ball with ease and moved onto 28 for the loss of no wickets after just 4 overs. It was the Lurgan spin attack which again done the damage for the home side as Andrew Bingham was introduced in the 5th over and removed Dundrum’s three opening batsmen for just 17 runs as he continued his impressive weekend form. Paul Stafford’s introduction all but ended the opposition threat as he bowled an impressive 4 overs which saw him concede just 5 runs and pick up 4 Dundrum wickets – an impressive feat in this short form of the game.
After this steady fall of Dundrum wickets, their innings never really gained any great impetus and closed on 66 all out in the 18th over.
Lurgan’s reply was slow due to some tight bowling by the Dundrum bowlers but a solid display by Stephen Chambers, who played some fantastic shots for his 24 not out and two quick fire boundaries from Matthew McCormick at the end saw the town side pass the total set to them in the 15th over to seal victory by 5 wickets.
On Saturday Lurgan are at home to their closest league rivals Woodvale in a game, which victory will see the home side promoted back to the NCU Premier League after a two year absence.