Rob McKeown's century helps Rainhill to victory over Fleetwood Hesketh
Rainhill 215-2 (Rob McKeown 111*, Sam Williamson 50*; Martin Sarbutts 1-38) Fleetwood Hesketh 189 (Paul Regan 93, Martin Sarbutts 52; Jack Lowrie 3-73)
Rainhill (25 pts) beat Fleetwood Hesketh (6 pts) by 26 runs
Rainhill's 2nd team are now unbeaten in three league matches as they recorded a hard-earned win over a talented Fleetwood Hesketh side. The victory came courtesy of a marvellous 111 not from Rob McKeown, an unbeaten half-century from Sam Williamson and a strong team performance in the field.
On paper it would appear that the home side cantered to an easy win, but matches are not played on paper and the result was the product of determined batting, penetrating bowling and committed fielding.
Having won the toss, Rainhill opted to bat and the opening pairing of James Clarke and Dan Woodward added 19 before Woodward was bowled by Martin Sarbutts. Clarke was joined by Rob McKeown and they played positively against some purposeful bowling, with Clarke in particular playing some cultured shots. The opener looked comfortable, but he was left cursing his luck when he was the victim of an unfortunate run-out when on 36.
Sam WIlliamson was in next, a batsman in good current form and his confidence was tangible. Williamson and McKeown showed real resolve as they defied Hesketh's four-pronged attack of Sarbutts, Adrian Halsall, Karan Patel and Bhautik Shukla, and kept the run flowing at a regular, if not rapid, rate. Playing sensibly, but with some quality shots to the boundary, the duo moved the score on to 215 from 43 overs without further loss. They did it showing a good understanding of the game and, while McKeown played a few big shots, the innings was generally characterised by quick thinking and good running rather than aggressive play. Williamson's unbeaten 50 came from 75 balls and included 3 fours, while McKeown's run-a-ball 111 not out included 7 fours and three sixes.
McKeown's century was his first since his sensational 127 not out at Lytham in 2014, while Sam's 50 was his fourth half-century in a Rainhill shirt. It was a remarkable partnership and one that set Fleetwood Hesketh a tough total to chase. The visitors lost opener George Woods for 2 when he was caught by Sam Waine off the bowling of Adam Edwards. Worse was to follow for them when fellow opener Thomas Cowan was run out by Edwards for 10. Ashvin Patel was next out when, seeking to acclerate the run rate, presented Jack Lowrie with a catch to give Mike Rotheram his first wicket since 2018. Rotheram's slow swing bowling created difficulties for the batsmen and he finished his spell with 1 for 10 from 4 overs - a great economy rate in the circumstances.
From 34 for 3, Fleetwood Hesketh rallied spiritedly. Captain Paul Regan and Martin Sarbutts were unruffled and composed as they built an impressive partnership that, for a while, threatened to swing the momentum of the game in their favour. Sarbutts, with one half-century to his name already this season (v Sping View), reached his second in just 39 balls, but was then bowled by paceman Jack Lowrie for 52. Regan was still at the crease, however, and - although a succession of partners came and went quickly - he continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, playing some excellent shots en route to a superb 93 from 116 deliveries. Eventually he ran out of partners and, in pursuit of runs, was finally caught by Paul Ford to bring the innings to a close. The visitors were all out for 189, giving Rainhill a 26-run win, a result that takes Rainhill up to fifth in the league table. Credit should go to Fleetwood Hesketh who refused to throw in the towel, especially Regan and Sarbutts for their impressive contributions.
Umpires: Steve Thomas, Ian Addy Third unpire: David Crossley
Scorers: David Crossley, Logan Hamilton
Match ball sponsor: Black Swan Tax Advisers