Saints stun Brigade; Poskitt century not enough for Coleraine
Ardmore were handed a very timely boost in their quest for a first ever North West senior title on Sunday as St Johnston stunned Brigade with a dramatic 2-run win at the Boathole.
It’s a result that means the Bleachgreen side realistically have to win one of their two remaining games and pick up a few bonus points along the way to get their hands on the senior league trophy.
On the flip side, it’s a desperately frustrating result for Andy Britton’s men, who remember lost out by one run to Newbuildings last weekend.
In all honesty, the Brigade captain will know they were masters of their own downfall. Having been up with the pace throughout, the visitors needed just four runs to win with four wickets in hand at the start of the final over.
Britton took a single off Nathan Cole’s first ball, but Haydyn Melly could only keep the next two deliveries out and was then smartly caught behind by Jack Macbeth off the fourth.
That meant three needed off two but worse was to follow from the next ball as the skipper tried a quick single to get himself back on strike and was run out for a battling 48.
All eyes were now on Nick Gray who was left to face the last ball needing three, but the impressive Cole removed any doubt about the outcome by knocking back the Brigade man’s centre stump.
The Saints’ innings was anchored by a superb 79 from David Lapsley (10 fours, 2 sixes), coupled with a blustery 45 from David Anthony (2 fours, 5 sixes).
That helped them recover from a precarious 42-5 to post 188-8 in their 40 overs; Josh Wilson (3-26) and David Barr (2-40) the most successful of the bowlers.
The Saints bowled really well in fairness and Brigade were reduced to 36-3 as Cole (3-24) and Michael Rankin (2-29) were on the mark early. Ryan Macbeth made 41 and Scott Macbeth 21, while Britton almost rescued the title contenders before the final over twist.
There was another cut and thrust contest at Ballymagorry where Fox Lodge knew that anything other than a win over Coleraine would see them drop into the Championship next season.
The home side got off to a flyer as TJ Nicholl (56) and Gayan Maneeshan (38) put on 87 for the first wicket.
Brian Allen added 42, Craig Doherty 24, Dean McCarter 19 and Michael Walker 14, but wickets fell steadily after the opening stand with Ravi Karunaratne, Scott Campbell, Matthew Hutchinson and James Bell all picking up two apiece.
A final total of 235-9 looked very competitive but not impossible and the Bannsiders went off in chase in seemingly confident mood.
Marcus Poskitt and Matty Smyth (20) put on 47 for the first wicket with Poskitt and Scott Campbell (27) adding 49 more for the second.
The opener and Karunaratne got Coleraine to 148 before Jason Milligan took a hand- the Foxes’ all-rounder picking up the big wickets of the Sri Lankan for 16, skipper Matthew Hutchinson without scoring and then Stephen Hutchinson for 26.
All the while, Poskitt was in magnificent form at the other end, however he was forced to watch on as a procession of batters came and went.
In the end, the job proved just a fraction too much, but not before he had hit 10 fours and 8 sixes in his brilliant 125.
The final total was 226 all out but the one silver lining for the north coast side was that Poskitt’s efforts weren’t entirely in vain- the five bonus points ensuring that Coleraine go into the final game of the season with a six point buffer.
That means Fox Lodge now have to beat title-chasing Ardmore in their final match and hope St Johnston have one more big performance in them as they host Coleraine on the final day.
Donemana moved up to fifth with a 32-run win at Newbuildings courtesy of a solid batting performance.
Levi Dougherty made 50 not out, DJ Dougherty 37, Gary McClintock 31, Ricky-Lee Dougherty 30 and William McBrine 20 in a total of 237-9.
Trent McKeegan, Johnny Thompson and Jason Dunn picked up two wickets apiece for the hosts, with the latter pair both contributing well with the bat also.
Thompson hit 53 (10 fours and a six) while ‘Bull’ added 40 along with 44 from Mark Hanna and 32 from Ryan Hunter in a reply of 205.
Gary Neely (3-42) bowled well for Donemana with Dwayne McGerrigle and Jordan McGonigle also chipping in for a valuable victory.
The final game saw Strabane also close their campaign with a win- edging out Bonds Glen by 15 runs.
This one saw a brief return to action for former Irish International Peter Gillespie who clearly answered an SOS call from the Red Caps for their last game of 2023.
Skipper Nasir Nawar made 50 and Kevin Gallagher 44 in an 88-run opening stand with Peter chipping in with 18 and Mark McNulty 17 in a total of 158 all out.
Sam Kincaid, Raymond Curry and David Cooke all claimed three wickets apiece for the Bee Gees, who couldn’t quite keep pace in reply.
Curry top scored with 25 with John Long adding 20 and Matty Barr 19 but two wickets each for Aaron Gillespie and Usman Azhar- who conceded just 42 runs from their combined 16 overs- saw the visitors restricted to 143-7 from their 40.
LONG’S SUPERVALU SENIOR LEAGUE- CURRENT STANDINGS
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