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Cricket: Northop Hall struggle to beat the drop

THREE games are all Northop Hall have left to save their skins in the Liverpool and District Competition Premier Division after a nightmare August bank holiday weekend saw them sink to the bottom of the table.

Saturday’s match at Northern left them nursing just three points on Saturday when if the weather had won through – as it did for some of their rivals – they would have taken five.

As it was Alex Smith, standing in as Hall captain for the absent Danny Nolan, lost the toss and Hall were asked to field after a rain delay.

Northern set a target of 163-3, Tim Buszard, Will Higginson and James Birch taking a wicket each.

On a good day Hall could have easily reached their target but they slumped to 96-6 before being dismissed for 150.

The only resistance Northern encountered came from Gareth Williams (47) and George Johansen (35) as they bagged just three bonus points.

Highfield, Northop’s most realistic target if they wish to reach safety, had their game at Colwyn Bay cancelled due to rain and were awarded five points.

Hall’s task became even tougher on Monday as they travelled to face Colwyn Bay themselves.

Bay have nothing to play for and are enjoying their cricket as the season winds to a close, but for Hall the all-Welsh clash was a must-win game.

Hall were asked to bat and they spent a laborious 64 overs at the crease amassing just 202-8.

A slow run-rate saw George Johansen hit 45, Alex Smith make an unbeaten 40, Gareth Williams put up 36 and Aussie Tim Buszard make 35.

While they had eaten up a number of extra overs to reach a competitive total, Hall had the opportunity to make their gamble pay off.

But Bay were seeing the ball well and hitting it even better.

When they reached 130-2, mother nature tried to offer Hall a helping hand, sending rain to rob Bay of nine more of the 40 overs they had in their innings.

In the end Bay held on for a draw, scoring 162-5.

It was a result that left Hall with just five points and they dropped to the bottom of the table as Newton-le-Willows’ defeated Leigh.

Danny Nolan’s side must now find a way to beat New Brighton and Bootle on the road either side of a home match against Leigh if they are to have any chance of survival.