Rainhill loss at Wallasey means final day match against Bootle takes on extra significance
Wallasey 223-6 (Jamie Crawley 97, Andrew Ward 65*; David Atkinson 4-84)
Rainhill 126 (Mike Rotheram 33, David Atkinson 22; Andrew Beaver 4-39)
Wallasey (25 pts) beat Rainhill (4 pts) by 97 runs
Rainhill have it all to do against Bootle on Saturday if they are to ensure a top five finish and qualification for the Lancashire Cup.
Sitting comfortably in third place in early August, a succession of poor results and cancellations has meant that much depends on the outcome of the final match of the season.
Rainhill could finish as high as fourth should they beat Bootle and Ormskirk fail to win against New Brighton but, should Rainhill lose at Wadham Road and Formby win at Sefton Park, they could slip to sixth and be out of the Lancashire Cup qualification places. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Rainhill are onle five points ahead of Formby, meaning that potentially bonus points could determine the outcome.
Qualification for the Lancashire Cup is not the only issue that will be settled on Saturday. Bootle, currently occupying in the relegation places are level on points with Southport and Birkdale who are one place above them. Bootle's Premier League survival depends on them getting a better result against Rainhill than Southport and Birkdale in their match at third placed Leigh. The final relegation place may well be determined by bowling or batting points gained in those key matches.
The situation would have been different if Rainhill had won their game at Wallasey on Saturday. Unfortunately for the visitors, having put the hosts into bat and making the early breakthrough when Liam O'Toole bowled Daniel Beaver for 0, they came up against the in-form Jamie Crawley, who had already scored 824 runs this year. Crawley and Chris Davies shared a second wicket partnership worth 67 before David Atkinson tempted Davies to play into the hands of Mike Rotheram. Atkinson (pictured) bowled effectively throughout the afternoon, taking three further wickets including that of Crawley, who was bowled just three runs short of what would have been his second century of the afternoon.
However, in spite of Atkinson's efforts the batsmen dominated and Rainhill found it impossible to contain Andrew Ward's aggressive strokeplay. He and Crawley put on 116 for the fifth wicket, after which Ward almost single-handedly took his team's score to 223 for 6 before the declaration. Ward's unbeaten 65 contained 7 fours and 3 sixes.
In pursuit of 234 Rainhill promoted Ross Higham, having scored a defiant 40 against Northern in the previous match, to open the batting. Unfortunately, after making a positive start with 34 runs on the board, Tyler McGladdery was out, lbw to Matthew Keogh, for 8. Higham followed a few balls later, caught and bowled by Keogh for 24. James Clarke and Rob McKeown were unable to stay at the crease for long as Rainhill lost four wickets for just nine runs.
Recovery was led by David Atkinson and Sam Kershaw, with the former looking to score quickly. They were making progress and had taken the score on to 80 when Atkinson was caught and bowled by Andrew Beaver. Kershaw's wicket fell five runs later when he was stumped by Jack Leckey and, when Ben Edmundson was bowled by Christopher Bourne, Rainhill were in trouble at 89 for 7.
Mike Rotheram spearheaded a fightback and played positively for his 33 from 29 balls but, from Rainhill's perspective, it was too little too late.
Umpires: Phil Luxon, Craig Parkinson
Scorers: Craig Kell, Andrew Finney
Match ball sponsor: Black Swan Tax Advisers