Greenmount’s hopes of taking a giant leap to Lancashire League Division One safety came crashing around their ears when they went down to their relegation rivals Rochdale on Sunday.
It was a frustrating and bewildering watch at times as – chasing a meagre total of 90 – they failed to secure the victory that would have given them the edge going into the final two games of the campaign.
Rochdale found Mount bowler Callum Hunter in fine form and his 5 for 15 from seven overs, as well as professional Chesney Hughes’ 3 for 18 and skipper Ryan Senior’s 2 for 1, were factors in the home side failing to post what most people would judge a challenging total.
Nevertheless, a challenging total it proved to be due to a series of injudicious shots, a bizarre run out and culminating in a sickening final wicket when two of the club’s promising youngsters had almost dragged their teammates over the line.
Rochdale must have thought the writing was on the wall when Evan Williams hit two boundaries in the opening over of the reply but their dismay turned to delight when two wickets fell in the next one.
Hughes’ decision to go for a big hit two balls into his innings proved catastrophic as he completely misjudged Dale professional Sean Whitehead’s delivery and was stumped.
Three balls later Whitehead claimed another Mount scalp when Andy Kerr was caught off his bowling. Neither he nor Hughes had troubled the scorers.
But there was worse to come as 22 for 2 became 30 for 7 as Williams, Tom Heaton, Jack Harrison, Dan Stevens and Lewis Dove were returned to the clubhouse.
Ryan Senior and Matt Donnelly moved the score along before Donnelly was dismissed in controversial fashion.
As another well-rehearsed lbw chorus from the Rochdale players fell on deaf ears, they appeared to surround Donnelly who stepped aside to get out of their way.
Unfortunately for the Mount wicketkeeper he stepped out of his crease and Dale skipper Jamie Roche whipped off the bails and appealed to the square leg umpire who signalled a wicket.
The angry cries of ‘dead ball’ from the Greenmount supporters didn’t cut any ice with the officials who – after conversing with each other – decided the wicket stood.
Senior went on to score 13 before he became the ninth wicket with the score on 57.
Senior’s demise brought his cousin Matt Senior to the wicket and he, along with Callum Hunter gave the Rochdale plenty to think about.
Showing shot selection and judgment that was an example to their older teammates, they came within a whisker of winning the game putting on 30 runs before Senior was heartbreakingly run out just four runs from victory.
Man-of-the-match Hunter finished unbeaten on 26.
The seven bonus points picked up from the game keep the Mount two points ahead of Rochdale but with the final two game of the season against Darwen and Clitheroe – the two sides vying for the championship – on the horizon, Sunday’s result seems like an opportunity missed.
Meanwhile, the club’s second team were entertaining Rishton seconds and ran out 52-run victors.
The villager’s posted a total of 231 all out with the highlight a superb knock of 104 from Kieran Edwards. That target was too much for the visitors who slumped to 179 all out.
Top performer with the ball was youngster Adam Clarke who took 4 for 45 from his 11 overs in a fine display.
Mount’s third team had two matches over the weekend and travelled to Rochdale on Saturday to take on their fourth team.
Stand-in skipper Wes Young won the toss and elected to bat then saw his side score 148 for 9 from their 40 overs. Leading the way with the bat was Leigh Dickinson who finished unbeaten on 50.
Three wickets apiece for Steve Addleton and Sam Woolley and one each for Luca Addleton, Edward Dickinson and Charlie Exton proved the undoing of Rochdale who were dismissed for 127 all out in the 38th over.
The thirds went on to provide the Bank Holiday Monday entertainment at the Log Cabin and enjoyed a four wicket victory over their Nelson counterparts.
Nelson batted first and scored 182 for 5 with Adam Clarke adding two more wickets to his four the previous day while Edward Dickinson and Rory Daverage chipped in with one each.
The Greenmount reply was dominated by the evergreen Nigel Franklin who scored 101 but there was still plenty to do when he was dismissed with the score on 134.
Fortunately, Rory Daverage (21 not out) was on hand to help steer the ship home and the Mount reached the required total with four balls of their innings remaining.