Lowerhouse go six clear at top

STAND-In Skipper: Jonny Russell in action at Seedhill against Nelson on Saturday
STAND-In Skipper: Jonny Russell in action at Seedhill against Nelson on Saturday
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A TIE with Nelson and victory over Bacup leaves Lowerhouse six points clear at the top of the Lancashire League with 10 games to play.

On Saturday, the West Enders secured a tie in the local derby at Nelson after seemingly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Chasing 176 to win, Lowerhouse were cruising at 142-2 but lost five wickets, adding only 13 runs to their total.

Nelson batted having won the toss, and there was no hint of the drama to come as the game meandered, with little inspiration provided by either side. All the Nelson batsmen bar sub-professional Kuldeep Diwan got starts but failed to cash in.

Francois Haasbroek and the under used Matty Walker and Fergus Bailey bowled well with the Lowerhouse ground fielding sound as usual.

Lowerhouse began their reply and soon lost Ben Heap for his first failure of the season, but Hasan Abbas and Joe Martin looked comfortable. The departure of Martin brought together Hasan and Haasbroek, and the pair added 99 runs for the third wicket. The only criticism that could be levelled at the pair being that they allowed the run rate required for victory to rise from 3.5 per over to a run a ball, and maybe contributed to the frenzy that followed. Assured batting by Paddy Martin and Bailey gave the Lowerhouse followers, who made up the majority of the crowd, confidence. However, the wickets of Martin and Jonny Whitehead seemed to hand the game to Nelson. Needing three to win from the final ball with the last two batsmen at the wicket, Johnny Russell struck to mid wicket, and a misfield allowed the batsmen to race through for a second run to tie.

On Sunday, Lowerhouse gained revenge for their opening day defeat by easily defeating Bacup by 50 runs.

Batting first, Lowerhouse openers Heap and Joe Martin gave the home side a solid start. Abbas, playing his final match before returning to Pakistan, and Haasbroek continued the momentum. The innings was given a final impetus by the hugely-talented Walker, who finished with 38 not out. Without Jon Finch, the leading amateur wicket taker, the stand-in captain Russell shuffled his bowlers with good effect, taking wickets at regular intervals until the second half of the innings when Paddy Martin and Haasbroek bowled unchanged to keep Bacup in check and take the remaining wickets to secure the bowling points. Former Lowerhouse player Jack McGregor top scored with 74, the last wicket to fall, bowled by Martin. Haasbroek finished with 6-51 and Martin 3-49.