Firsts beat Cliftonville…..and the rain

It was 8.10pm when Lurgan batsman Stephen Chambers hit the winning runs to give the Town side another valuable 4 points in their Section 1 league clash against Cliftonville at Pollock Park on Saturday. Five interruptions for rain threatened to wipe out the game, but as the rain clouds gathered for a sixth time, the home side’s perseverance paid off as they got over the line with 7 wickets in hand.
A delayed start and a damp wicket and outfield meant that winning the toss could be crucial and Richard Clarke had no hesitation in asking Cliftonville to bat first. The players were off just after they started for rain but on return,
Callum Grieve struck quickly to remove Menaul, caught by Stephen Chambers at slip with 14 on the board. Callum Gibson had Kelso caught by Derek Wilson with the score on 32, but with the match reduced to 37 overs, Terret and McCully took the total to 60 for 2 wkts after 20 overs. The crucial wicket of the innings came when Paul Stafford tempted Terret to try and clear the long off boundary only to see Callum Gibson claim the catch to remove the dangerous opener for 41 with the score on 83. After that it became a procession of wickets for the visitors with Stafford in particular wreaking havoc with their middle order. From 83 for 3 wkts, Cliftonville crashed to 107 all out with Stafford taking 5 wkts for 27 runs in 8 overs. Peter Maxwell proved miserable with the runs, conceding just 8 in his 6 overs and taking 2 wkts, while Callum Grieve continued his recent good form with the ball taking 2 for 25 off 5.3 overs. There was also a wicket for Callum Gibson who conceded only 18 runs in his 7 overs.

DLS calculation meant that Lurgan started off chasing 114 off 37 overs for victory. Only 5 runs were on the board when Jack Harrison was bowled by an excellent delivery from McCord for 4. Runs were difficult to come by as the McCord brothers were bowling a tight line for the visitors and there was further success as Stephen Johnston got an edge to a delivery that was moving away from him, and was out caught behind for 11. Stephen Chambers and AV Dandekar were at the crease when another stoppage for rain reduced the game to a 29 over match with the total adjusted leaving Lurgan needing 96 to win. Both batsmen played cautiously, but were always up with the required run rate and had taken the home side to 9 runs from victory when Dandekar mistimed a leg-side drive and spooned a catch to mid-off for a vital 43. Peter Maxwell joined Chambers to knock off the last 9 runs and it was Stephen Chambers finishing on 29 not out who hit the winning runs with just over 3 overs to spare.