Rainhill win by 12 runs to move out of bottom two
Rainhill 190-9 (Tyler McGladdery 39, Sam Kershaw 37; David While 4-40)
New Brighton 178 (Owais Shah 88, Sebastian Botes 29; Peter Kelly 5-58)
Rainhill (24 pts) beat New Brighton (7 pts) by 12 runs
Rainhill won their second successive match to move up to ninth place in the Premier League and out of the relegation zone. However, the match against New Brighton was a tense one that went down to the wire. Rainhill were forced to work hard for the victory by the industrious visitors, who at one point were 111-2 chasing 191.
Put in to bat, Rainhill lost two early wickets as Mark Hale dismissed Ross Higham and Richie Forsyth. In-form batsmen Tyler McGladdery and Sam Kershaw took the score on to 71, but McGladdery - on 39 and looking set to pass the 50 mark for the sixth time this season - was caught by Owais Shah. Kershaw batted on until, with the score on 99, Sebastian Botes held a catch to dismiss him for 37.
Other Rainhill batsmen played themselves in but were unable to press on: Ben Edmundson (16), David Atkinson (18), Imliwati Lemtur (19), Dan Kelly (32) and Simon Brown (12 not out) helped take the score to 190 for 9 when, upon securing the extra batting point, the home side declared.
Rainhill were looking for early wickets but were frustrated as Owais Shah and Sebastian Botes came out of the blocks quickly, playing purposefully and, at times, aggressively. Dropped catches didn't help Rainhill's cause as New Brighton raced towards the target. Their first wicket partnership, worth 71, was ended when Botes was held by Tyler McGladdery off the bowling of spinner Peter Kelly - the first of four catches McGladdery would take. Having made the breakthrough, the spin duo of Kelly and Imliwati lemtur set about demolishing New Brighton's top order. Shah remained resolute, but David While was out for 1 when McGladdery took his second catch.
Shah and Dan Cooke began to build a useful partnership and took the score onto 111 for 2 - a strong position given the conditions and the target of 191. However, for the second week in a row a Sam Kershaw catch turned the game: once Cooke's wicket fell, New Brighton suffered a middle-order collapse as Matthew Thompson (0), Lewis Botes (1) and Oliver Griffiths (2) were all dismissed by Lemtur and suddenly Rainhill were in the ascendancy. 111 for 2 had become 119 for 6. However, with Shah at the crease New Brighton felt they had a chance. The defiant Daniel Shillingshaw also played his part, keeping out Kelly and Lemtur as Shah played his shots. They had added 32 and were beginning to frustrate Rainhill, taking the score beyond 150, when Peter Kelly found the edge of Shah's bat and he was caught behind by Simon Brown. Shah's innings of 88 had been immense for New Brighton and, in the circumstances, quite remarkable.
With the obstinate and dangerous Shah out and only three wickets needed, Rainhill's players will have felt victory was within their grasp. So too, however, did New Brighton's Shillingshaw (14 not out) and Scott Sherratt (12), who were continuing to press on towards the target. Kelly and Brown combined again to remove Sherratt and, moments later, Kelly took his fifth wicket to send Adam Neal back to the pavilion without scoring and the Rainhill players into raptures.
At 165 for 9, and with Kelly and Lemtur in command, 26 runs without further loss looked a big ask for New Brighton. However, Shillingshaw and Mark Hale defied Rainhill's spinners for a while and added 13 runs, slowly edging closer to the target.
It was a tense finale, but Rainhill eventually broke Hale's resistance: Lemtur caught and bowled him to give the hosts their second win in as many games. Lemtur had taken his fifth wicket of the afternoon but, more importantly, had secured Rainhill 24 incredibly valuable points. Rainhill's next match is away to Formby, who are currently occupying bottom spot in the league. That promises to be a very interesting game.
Scorers: Andrew Finney, Josh Eastwood Match ball sponsor: Alan Higham