A brief overview of the weekend's matches
1st XI: Rainhill v Newton-le-Willows
Rainhill 241-5 (Tyler McGladdery 57, Ross Higham 51; Afaq Ali Sartaj 4-71) Newton-le-Willows 149-8 (Ben Walkden 54, Patrick Connelly 30; Sam Kershaw 4-24)
Rainhill (9 pts) drew with Newton-le-Willows (4 pts) Scorecard
Rainhill had to make do with a draw in spite of a positive performance at home to Newton-le-Willows.
Put into bat by the visitors, Rainhill's opening par of Mike Rotheram and Tyler McGladdery were resolute and added 71 for the first wicket. Rotheram exited first when he was trapped lbw by Afaq Ali Sartaj for 35. Sam Kershaw joined McGladdery and they took the score onto 132, with McGladdery registering another half-century before he was eventually out for 57, caught by Sartaj off the bowling of Ben Walkden. Kershaw missed out on a half-century of his own when he too fell lbw to Sartaj for 46. However, Ross Higham hit 51 from 54 deliveries and captain Ben Edmundson contributed a quick 28 to help Rainhill to a total of 241 for 5. Rainhill quick bowler Jack Lowrie (2 for 38) took two early wickets to dismiss Nathan Hughes and Christopher Chambers and reduce Newton-le-Willows to 13 for 2. The visitors were unable to score at the rate required to successfully chase the target, but Ben Walkden made a patient 54 and contributions from Siddiq Patel (29) and Patrick Connelly (30) enabled the visitors to hold out for a draw. Rainhill's spinners had a successful afternoon with Sam Kershaw (4 for 24) and Imliwati Lemtur (2 for 42) taking six wickets between them, but they were unable to bowl out Newton-le-Willows as time ran out.
Rainhill are now unbeaten in the last five league matches and will travel to Leigh on Saturday.
2nd XI: Fleetwood Hesketh v Rainhill
Rainhill 165 (Adam Edwards 45, David Pennington 42; Mark Holmes 3-22) Fleetwood Hesketh 155-8 (Paul Regan 74, Nate White 20; David Pennington 2-20)
Rainhill (8 pts) drew with Fleetwood Hesketh (9 pts) Scorecard
Rainhill's 2nd XI also had to settle for a frustrating draw in a close contest with Fleetwood Hesketh.
Batting first, Rainhill's David Pennington (42) and Simon Brown (23) made a solid start and added 67 runs before the first wicket fell. Pennington was first out when he was caught by Taylor Campbell off the bowling of Bhautik Shukla. The loss of Pennington sparked a mini-collapse as Campbell then took three wickets of his own in rapid succession - Brown (lbw), Sam WIlliamson and Phil Morgan (both bowled) - as Rainhill slipped from 67 for 0 to 79 for 4.
Adam Edwards and Paul Ford attempted to regain the initiative and they were able to take the score to 107 before Ford was bowled, for 14, by Martin Sarbutts. Rainhill's tail found the going tough against an inspired Mark Holmes (3 for 22) but Edwards was able to dominate the strike and, supported by Sam Waine (13 not out) helped Rainhill post a respectable score of 165. Edwards was the last player out, for 45.
Fleetwood Hesketh also got off to a solid start but wickets from Sam Waine (2) and Phil Morgan had the home side on the ropes at 42 for 3. Worse was to follow for the hosts as David Pennington (2 for 20) and Morgan ripped through the middle order, leaving Hesketh floundering on 51 for 6. However, Paul Regan played an exceptional innings to help his team avoid what looked like near-certain defeat. He hit an unbeaten 74 and, aided by Tom Appleton (13) and Mark Holmes (14) defiantly held out to the end. When the match ended Fleetwood Hesketh were themselves only 11 runs away from victory.
3rd XI: South Liverpool v Rainhill Rainhill 158 (Paul Millar 50, Sam Addy 16) South Liverpool 76 (Paul Millar 5-9)
Rainhill (24 pts) beat South Liverpool (6 pts) by 82 runs Scorecard
Rainhill's 3rd team are sitting on top of the league after a convincing win over South Liverpool. With Fleetwood Hesketh only managing a draw at Southport Trinity, Rainhill took full advantage with a superb all-round performance. Paul Millar was the star of the show, hitting a half-century and picking up five wickets. However, it was a fantastic team performance that earned the result, including an exemplary display of leg spin from Sam Addy (4-6) and what captain Matt Lawler described as "the catch of the season" from Vish Maheshwari, who dived low to his right at second slip for a brilliant take off Mike Mercer. Rainhill won the toss and elected to bat. Only Millar was able to make a big score but Mike Mercer (19), Sam Addy (16), Vish Maheshwari (15) and Matt Lawler (15) all played a part in building a decent, although not exactly intimidating, total. If Rainhill felt disappointed at being unable to set a more challenging target then it didn't show and they bowled with determination and discipline to skittle out a good team for just 76.
With their destinty very much in their own hands, Rainhill host second-placed Lytham next Saturday in a potential title decider.
4th XI: Rainhill v New Brighton The 4th team's match against New Brighton was conceded by the opposition. As a result Rainhill were awarded 25 points and currently sit second in the league. Formby v Rainhill Recreationals Rainhill 120 (Matt Diggins 28, Robert Hanson 27; Saju 3-16) Formby 135-3 (Simon Kennedy 34, Ryan Kennedy 28*; J. Hanson 1-2)
Formby beat Rainhill by 7 wickets
Rainhill Recreationals lost away to Formby in an entertaining game in which four players made their debuts: Matt Diggins, James Hanson, Vikram Abhyankar and Swapan Jain. Vice-captain Andrew Page deputised for Joe Crossley.
On a sunny afternoon Rainhill won the toss and opted to bat first on a flat batting track. Saju took the wicket of Abhyankar for 5, but Robert Hanson (pictured) and Swapan Jain took the score beyond 50 and were scoring at a steady rate. However, just when it appeared as if they were gaining the upper hand, Rainhill lost Jain for 16 when he was run out. The introduction of Formby's spinner, Mark Sumpter, also brought a wicket with Hanson exiting for 27. He had looked in good form and had played confidently with some excellent drives to the boundary.
Matt Diggins and Ben Wilkinson then forged a useful partnership but were not able to maintain the scoring rate as some tight, probing bowling from Formby slowed the flow of runs. Wilkinson made a creditable 7 while Diggins top-scored with 28. Once he had departed the crease, it was left to the lower order to score as many as they could in the final five overs - given instructions to play their shots Rainhill's tail-enders did just that, with Kristopher Duffin, Simon Gibson and Anna Page all playing superb shots for four to help Rainhill reach 120 for 8 from 35 overs Catches win matches and unfortunately Rainhill were unable to take many in spite of the efforts of pace bowlers Jain and Gibson who created several opportunities. Gibson bowled Simon Kennedy with the final ball of his spell, and James Hanson took his first wicket for the Recreationals when he found the edge of Mike Doran's bat and Andrew Page held the catch. Chances continued to be spurned but Rainhill did manage to take a further wicket with another debutant Matt Diggins, trapping Cillian Dwyer lbw. In the spirit of recreational cricket Formby, having passed the target of 121, continued to bat to allow Rainhill the opportunity to give everyone a bowl who wanted one.