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Cricket: Northop take giant step toward survival

WITH every team in the North Wales League Premier Division scheduled to play two games over the August bank holiday weekend, Mother Nature decided that she was a Northop fan and washed out almost the entire programme.

One of the few games to survive was Saturday’s game at Flint Road between Northop and Llay Welfare.

Chris Brookes’ Northop side returned to the top flight last summer and the three-wicket victory they secured over their visitors, coupled with the fact that one of the other four games across the league weekend to survive saw relegation candidates Brymbo lose, puts Northop firmly in control of their survival hopes as the season heads toward its climax.

The spotlight was on Brookes’ side as none of the other Flintshire teams got a game under their belts at all and skipper Brookes chose to bowl having won the toss.

Bottom-club Llay offered what resistance they could but the league table doesn’t lie and they struggled to deal with Northop’s bowling attack.

Andy Poynton (2-18) and Darren Williams (2-8) got Northop off to a strong start, dealing efficiently with the top four batsmen.

Midway down the order John Lloyd (18) and Mike Phennah (30) attempted to kick on and give Llay a defendable total and they were helped by an unbeaten 19 from Steve Partington.

But as the top had fallen, so the bottom crumbled as Llay were dismissed for 110, Thomas Hughes claiming 2-32 and Jack Darcy 2-18 in the process.

Northop’s batting innings began as expected after the interval.

Darren Williams put down a healthy 19 and Harry Lewis a perhaps beneath par 13.

But Llay were looking for something to hold on to and they got it when Tom Crewe ran out David Foulkes for a duck and Daniel Parry bowled out Thomas Hughes for just four.

Northop suddenly found their fate in the balance, facing the possibility of collapse, but the ship was steadied by Richard Walker and Andy Poynton, as Walker put on 36 and Poynton remained unbeaten on 23.

Their runs settled Northop and got them within touching distance of victory.

When Walker departed, Poynton was joined by Brookes, then Phil Evans and finally Bart Beswick, who accompanied Poynton as Northop got over the line to secure a pivotal victory in their quest to remain in the Premier Division.