Pennington and Powell to the rescue
Oliver Powell and David Pennington hit unbeaten half-centuries in Rainhill victory
Ainsdale 181-4 (Jacob Lucas 54*, James McKittrick 30*; Joe Harvey 3-42)
Rainhill 182-5 (David Pennington 61*, Oliver Powell 56*; Alex Rigby 3-53)
Rainhill (20 pts) beat Ainsdale (7 pts) by 5 wickets
Rainhill mounted a successful recovery to chase down a target of 182 and take a much-needed win against Ainsdale.
The victory moves Rainhill into eighth place in the 2nd XI First Division and, most importantly, takes them 14 points clear of the relegation places with three matches still to play.
Ainsdale, put into bat by Rainhill, started positively with openers Joel Barlow and Darren Tyms putting on 48 for the first wicket. Their resistance was broken when John Ball bowled Barlow for 22; shortly afterwards Tyms followed, bowled by Joe Harvey having made a useful contribution of 28. Harvey struck again to remove Carl Guest, lbw, without scoring and Ainsdale were on 66 for 3.
David Newcombe and Jacob Lucas played some good shots as they took the score beyond 100 and put on 54 for the fourth wicket. Harvey took his third wicket of the afternoon when he bowled Newcombe for 23, after which James McKittrick joined Lucas in the middle. The new pairing took the score to 181 before Ainsdale declared, with Lucas and McKittrick finishing unbeaten on 54 and 30 runs respectively.
It had been a strong performance from Ainsdale with the bat and they also started off well with the ball. Sam Williamson was out early for just 8, caught by Carl Guest off the bowling of Alex Rigby. Luis Duffy looked to play aggressively from the outset and hit a quick 36 that included 7 fours but, having taken the score past 50, he was caught and bowled by Joel Barlow. The wickets of Ethan Powell, Adam Edwards and Joe Harvey fell in rapid succession as Rainhill slumped from 51 for 1 to 53 for 5.
129 runs short of the target and with only five wickets in hand, the new pairing of Oliver Powell (pictured) and David Pennington first had to weather the storm and resist some real pressure. This they did effectively before exerting a little pressure of their own, playing some fine shots to the boundary as Ainsdale's attack tired. As Rainhill moved closer to their target, Powell and Pennington played with increasing confidence and the run chase turned into something of a procession. The pair steered their team to victory without further loss, with both players making their first half-centuries of the season. In Powell's case it was his highest ever score in a Rainhill shirt.
On paper a five-wicket victory seems easy, but this was anything but and there was a time in the match when a Rainhill win looked anything but likely. It took great personal performances from Powell and Pennington under immense pressure to bring Rainhill back into a game Ainsdale had seemed to be in total control of.
Umpires: Ray Fitzpatrick, John Veacock
Scorers: Cameron Hunter, David Crossley
Match ball sponsor: Black Swan Tax Advisers