SKELMERSDALE had to make the difficult away trip to near-neighbours Burscough for the final game of their 2012 campaign.
With Skelmersdale in second place and Burscough in fourth, there was added spice to the fixture, especially as both teams still held realistic expectations of promotion.
On the day, it was Burscough who were the more composed, and came away with a much-needed win.
Burscough won the toss and elected to bat first.
They opened with Michael Bimpson and Lee Berrie, and moved the score to 26 when Skelmersdale got the breakthrough. Bimpson was given LBW to Sunny Gandhi having scored six runs.
New Zealander Brendan Domigan came in to join Berrie and it was the start of a prolific 166 partnership.
With the score on 192, the second wicket fell, that of Lee Berrie, caught by Barry Leadbetter off the bowling of Matthew Fenney, for 98 patient runs. Only three runs were added when Alan Murray was bowled by Ben Maddocks for a ‘duck’.
Chris Andrews came in to partner Domigan hoping to help the New Zealander get his well-deserved century. With the score on 229, Ben Maddocks claimed his second of three wickets, as Andrews was caught behind the stumps by Dave Farrell for 11 runs.
This brought in Burscough skipper Adam Waterhouse who also wanted to play anchor to assist Domigan. Unfortunately Domigan was unable to complete his century, when with his score on 97 he was bowled by Ben Maddocks. Domigan had put together a sensible yet exhilarating innings in which no Skelmersdale bowler was spared.
In the 55th over, Waterhouse called time on the innings, declaring on 238 for 5 wickets. At the close he was unbeaten on six.
Skelmersdale opened with Joe Till and Jonas Smith, but after facing just two balls, Till was given out LBW to Chris Andrews without scoring.
This was the breakthrough that Burscough needed.
Sunny Gandhi came in to partner Smith and the pair put on 27 runs when Smith completely misjudged a Gary Taylor delivery and was bowled for 12 runs. Skelmersdale sent in Kyle Till next, but on his first ball he gifted a simple catch to Lee Berrie off Taylor’s bowling.
Skelmersdale were now in trouble on 27-3. There was more drama to come when Sunny Gandhi was given LBW to Chris Andrews having scored 13 runs. It was a contentious decision as Gandhi had plainly hit the ball before hitting his pad, and it was one which clearly knocked the stuffing out of Skelmersdale’s resolve.
With the score on 46 Skelmersdale lost their fifth wicket.
Barry Leadbetter had scored eight runs, but as Waterhouse adjusted his field, he gifted a simple catch to Chris Andrews at deep mid-on.
Skipper Maddocks was playing well, but rapidly running out of partners, thanks to Skelmersdale’s gung-ho approach. With the score on 60, the sixth Skelmersdale wicket fell when Luke Manley was bowled by the now-refreshed Domigan for 10 runs.
Louis Sweeney came in join his skipper and despite facing a nervous few balls started to play confidently.
The two youngsters had moved the Skelmersdale score up to 82 when Maddocks played a confident drive over the bowler.
There looked to be no danger, until Alan Murray threw himself to take a stunning diving catch. It was plainly not to be Skelmersdale’s day!!
Fifteen-year old Matthew Wright came in to join Sweeney at the wicket and in the main looked untroubled. The Skelmersdale score had crept to 96 when the eighth wicket fell, Sweeney bowled by Chris Andrews for 12 runs.
For a while Matty Fenney defended stubbornly, but had only scored two runs when given out LBW to the veteran Phil Unsworth.
Skelmersdale’s innings closed with the very next ball when Dave Farrell was victim of another LBW decision off Unsworth for a ‘duck’. Skelmersdale had lost by 129 runs.
The defeat effectively ended any hopes that Skelmersdale had of promotion.
Across the River Mersey third-placed Parkfield defeated top-team Birkenhead Park, leaving a three-team dogfight for the two promotion places, whilst Skelmersdale can only watch on wandering what could have been.
One bright spot in the Skelmersdale innings was the form of 15-year old Matthew Wright, who outstayed all of his more experienced teammates with a display of calm, sensible batting.
l Skelmersdale second XI played hosts to high-flying Rainford 2nd XI in their final game of the season.
Rainford won the toss and decided to bat first.
Skelmersdale got off to the ideal start when Phil Wright trapped Anthony Derbyshire LBW for 4 runs.
Lewis Clarke was brought into the bowling attack, and he had an early success when bowling Matthew Campbell for 16 runs.
Clarke claimed his second wicket when bowling Stuart Benzies for 15 runs.
Skipper Peter Davies was bowling particularly tight, and he got his first wicket when dismissing William Tabern for 15 runs.
Davies went on to claim another three wickets in a 15-over spell, for 36 runs.
At the other end, Phil Murgatroyd was going well, and in the 45th over Rainford declared on 165-8. At the close Murgatroyd was unbeaten on 34, with Jack Hemingway on three.
Skelmersdale opened with senior players Phil Wright and Andy Donnelly hoping to get off to a good reply. Donnelly was the first wicket to fall, bowled by Chris Spencer for one run. Skipper Peter Davies came in to join Wright and the pair began a steady partnership.
They had put on 40 runs when Wright was bowled by Philip Murgatroyd for 16 runs.
It started a remarkable collapse for Skelmersdale, as seven wickets fell for just thirty runs. The first to go was Tony Jones, given LBW to Chris Spencer for a ‘duck’.
The innings closed at 78, with Alex Glover still at the crease, but unable to post a score.