Rainhill earn vital win at Formby
Formby 253-6 (Ollie Sutton 77, Ryan Brown 51; Imliwati Lemtur 3-81) Rainhill 254-4 (Sam Kershaw 91, Rob McKeown 62*; Steve Lazars 2-59) Rainhill (23 pts) beat Formby (7 pts) by 5 wickets
Rainhill secured their third succesive win but were made to work for it by an industrious Formby side.
Bottom of the table Formby defied their lowly position as openers Calum Turner and Ollie Sutton dominated and frustrated Rainhill's bowling attack. Scoring quickly, the pair shared a partnership of 94 that was only broken when Turner was held by Richie Forsyth off the bowling of Sam Kershaw. Turner's 40 had come from 38 deliveries, an indication of Formby's batting approach.
Sam Oldham was no less direct and hit 27 before he was deceived by a ball from spinner Peter Kelly and stumped by Simon Brown. The wickets made little difference to Formby's advance, as Sutton and new partner Ryan Brown continued to score freely. Sutton's colourful and entertaining innings was ended when, on 77, he edged Kelly to wicketkeeper Brown.
Brown also reached his half-century, hitting three fours and a six in the process, but immediately afterwards holed out to Dan Kelly to give Imliwati Lemtur his first wicket of the afternoon. Lemtur also took the wickets of Steve Lazars (36 from 24 balls) and Jackson Darkes-Sutcliffe (10 from 10) but could not prevent Formby posting a formidable target after declaring on 253 for 6.
David Atkinson and Tyler McGladdery opened for Rainhill and played with intelligence and astuteness. The first-wicket stand was ended, with the score on 49, when McGladdery played a delivery from George Burrows to Cole Turner. The loss of in-form McGladdery was a blow to Rainhill and things got worse for Rainhill when Richie Forsyth fell lbw to Steve Lazars for 8. However, Atkinson - playing against his former club - and Sam Kershaw were able to press on despite these setbacks and moved the score into the 90s.
Atkinson looked in good shape and his unperturbed aggression took him to 41 runs before he was caught by Sam Oldham. Captain Ben Edmundson was in next but only made 4 before he, too, was caught by Oldham. With the score on 95 for 4, Formby were in a strong position but Kershaw and Rob McKeown (pictured) sniffed an opportunity. Combining solid defence with elegance, they played with determination and spirit without ever looking hurried. As the partnership progressed, quiet confidence evolved into real belief. Kershaw departed, nine runs shy of a century, but not before he and McKeown had taken the score on to 240. The stand was quite remarkable, and a reminder to those from other clubs that Rainhill have batsmen other than Tyler McGladdery who are capable of playing a match-winning innings. Kershaw looked a class act throughout, always in control, while McKeown - unruffled and focused - demonstated he has flair of his own. McKeown and Imliwati Lemtur saw Rainhill across the finish line, with McKeown unbeaten on 62 from 83 balls. Formby deserve great credit for the positive way they approached the game, but ultimately the partnership from Kershaw and McKeown proved the difference - and deserved to.
Rainhill are now up to seventh place in the league. They will look to make further progress when they travel to Orrell Red Triangle next week.
Umpires: Chris Dunn, Dave Wood
Scorers: Kenneth Miles, Andrew Finney
Match ball sponsor: RD Wilkes (Optometrists)