Captain marvel sets standard as Longridge keep up the pressure

Nick Wilkinson
Nick Wilkinson

Longridge 2nd XI travelled to Penwortham having closed the gap on leaders Vernon Carus to just eight points in Division 1 of the Palace Shield.

With only a handful of games left skipper Nick Wilkinson knew another big performance would be required in order to keep the pressure on the leaders.

Penwortham won the toss and asked the visitors to bat on an overcast day and good bowling conditions.

Andrew Simpson Jnr opened the batting with debutant Joe Livesey but after a patient start Longridge were soon in trouble.

Livesey went early followed by three more top order wickets and when Simpson fell for a gutsy 29 the visitors were in real trouble at 52-5.

Enter the skipper, Nick Wilkinson, who joined Tom Howarth at the crease.

They stemmed the flow of wickets and started to build a partnership, Wilkinson leading by example scoring freely on a ground where he has turned games before!

A fifty stand saw Longridge start to earn some credibility and as both batsmen opened up the runs started to flow and a defendable target looked increasingly likely.

Howarth and Wilkinson added a magnificent 101 for the 6th wicket before Howarth fell for 37, Andy Simpson then came in and added a breezy 24 in a fine cameo with Wilkinson who top scored with a real captain’s knock of 73 to take Longridge to 196-8 at tea and completely transform the innings.

Penwortham is a high scoring ground so despite taking momentum into their defence Longridge knew there was still work to do.

Will Baines opened the bowling and removed former Longridge batsman Phil Chapple in the very first over.

Penwortham edged along picking up runs but as more wickets fell the visitors looked to be taking control with the score on 80-4.

However, Rob Sturzaker the Penwortham skipper, looked to emulate what Wilkinson had done as he tore into the Longridge attack.

Howarth took most of the onslaught as he hauled the home side back into the match and Penwortham pushed onto 150-6 in what was becoming a very tight game.

Baines then picked up the vital wicket as he has done so many times this season, clean bowling Sturzaker for 40 and handing the initiative back to the home side.

Andy Simpson produced another excellent display of death bowling picking up three wickets as the home side fell 20 runs short of their target to be dismissed for 176.

Tony Coupe once more showed his quality, chipping in with 2-36, Andy Simpson finished with 3-31 but the pick of the bowlers once again was Baines with 4-57.

Wilkinson was delighted with snatching another 12 point haul, but the character of his side is the stand out feature from a side who are right behind a captain who leads from the front.

Longridge remain eight points behind Vernons with five games to go and a huge game at home to South Shore this weekend.

n Elsewhere the first team had a very disappointing afternoon, being soundly beaten by Penwortham first team at home.

Longridge were bowled out for just 86 with old boy Jon Roebuck taking 8-28 on his former stomping ground.

The 3rd team had an equally disappointing day as they lost out to Grimsargh 1st XI in the big local derby. Ian Barton scored a gritty 78 not out for Longridge but the visitors total of 152-8 never looked like being enough as Grimsargh got off to a great start with Ryan Hilton scoring 33 before Gordon Brooks 64 not out proved the difference.

The 4th team continued their excellent form however with a routine win over Penwortham 4th XI.

Alex Mason picked up four wickets as the visitors were bowled out for 85, Longridge won by 9 wickets thanks to an unbeaten half century from Matt Simpson.

Finally, in the Fylde League on Sunday the 5th Team qualified for the T20 finals day with a solid win over Comrades CC, Oliver Hobro picked up four wickets and both Rhys Morgan and Chris Howarth retired with 25 not out.

Longridge 2nd XI 196-8

Penwortham 2nd XI 176 - All Out