Offley Pip Lilley In Early Season Thriller

Offley & Stopsley 174-8, 40 overs Beat Lilley 172 all out 35.3 overs By Two Wickets

The Mansfield Towndrow Trophy is a bit closer to Offley’s grasp tonight after a thrilling last ball win against Lilley in the season opener.

New Lilley skipper Craig Paddington elected to bat having won the toss, but may have been regretting it ten minutes later when Ashby (4) and Scanlan (4) were both sent packing by balls which nipped off a surprisingly conducive surface.  Dan McLaughlin did little to improve matters, hanging around for a patient 9 before aiming a disgusting slog at the gentle fayre of Hook and holing out.

Fortunately, the assured head of Khurrum Khan was at the other end, and together with Taz Qureshi, Lilley’s ship was steadied beyond recognition.  Taz was eventually castled for 25, but Khan went on to register the first Lilley half century of 2014.  He eventually holed out in disappointing fashion for 62, when well set for a big score.

Jimmy Rainey departed, stumped, without troubling the scorers, but youngsters Hamza and Awais Ahmed both showed some class before perishing.  Skipper Paddington survived briefly before trying a Caribbean stroke too far, but unbeaten Collinson played a good foil to belligerent beastly bashing from Mik Carman, who launched an incredible late assault before perishing for 14.  Still, the score had been pushed on to 172, a healthy target of 173.

Despite some extremely close and some would say absolutely plum LBW appeals being turned down, Lilley couldn’t find an early breakthrough.  The cause was not helped by a couple of early missed chances, with sharp chances for Paddington and Collinson going down at Point and Square Leg respectively.  McLaughlin (3-28) entered the fray and bowled with considerable verve and control.  He soon snared the impressive Bexfield, edging behind to Carman who took a sharp catch.  Two balls later, Lilley were in an excellent position as long time pain in the backside Tom ‘Tiger’ Reilly dragged on in slow motion as the momentum lurched towards the visitors.

Maher’s brief resistance was ended when he spooned McLaughlin to Qureshi at deep mid off, but it was the introduction of the two young spinners, one after another, that changed the momentum of the game.

Awais bowled a tidy spell, with excellent control, but when Hamza replaced him, Offley began to buckle.  The young off spinner dismissed Mo Chaudry for a well made 74, bowled, and then added three more wickets as Lilley looked to grab an unlikely win.  Matters could have been even better had new Vice Captain Mark Scanlan held either of two chances that fell his way.  Ashby came on to bowl the 39th over and should have snared Junaid, but Qureshi dropped a steepling chance and Lilley’s hopes looked lost.

There was still time for a run out off the penultimate ball of the innings with the scores tied, as Carman demolished the stumps after Qureshi’s throw, but Asif managed to squirt the final ball through the leg side to scamper the winning run and a memorable win for the inbreds.

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