Middleton boost after rivals suffer
AT the end of a rain affected weekend, by a strange sequence of events Pennine League Championship leaders Middleton ended up two points better off without bowling a ball.
With puddles on the square and a soggy outfield the decision was taken at 12.30pm, Saturday to abandon the match at Oldham and two points were awarded to each team.
Middleton’s closest rivals Royton decided to hang on until 3.30pm in the hope of getting a game in against Hollinwood, which they did.
However the form book was ripped up as Hollinwood cruised to a sixwicket win, leaving the Moonrakers ten clear with six games remaining.
Coincidentally their next fixture on Saturday is against second-placed Royton with a start time of 1pm.
Middleton seconds fared no better with the weather as their fixture at Towncroft also fell victim to the soggy conditions, leaving the second team thirteen points clear, again with six matches remaining.
That just left the third team, currently third in their division to squeeze a game in on the Sunday.
Under the leadership of wily old skipper Mark Tierney, the Moonrakers won the toss and elected to field.
Middleton opened the bowling with two teenage six footers in Aaron Eaves and James Tierney who caused the Royton early order no end of problems. Particularly the pace of Tierney fresh from representing Lancashire Under 17s, as he took three early wickets.
Aaron Eaves was also bowling well, bringing the ball down from quite a height and was well rewarded with the wicket of Orme well caught by Collins.
At 25 for 4 wickets, skipper Tierney changed his bowlers introducing medium pacer Pete Woodcock and the quick bowler Dan Stanley fresh from Cambridge University.
Left armer Stanley was soon rewarded with the wicket of Thicket lbw.
Slowly, however, the Royton pair Matt Laskey and first teamer Joe Jackson began a partnership of sixty runs that took Royton over three figures.
Jackson eventually was clean bowled by Stanley whilst Laskey at times led a charmed life remaining 60 not out.
Skipper Tierney rang the changes further and introduced youngsters Jack Nolan and 13-yearold Harry Aikenhead.
Both bowled very well with leg spinner Aikenhead being rewarded with two wickets, one clean bowled whilst the other was a smart stumping from agile wicket keeper Liam Jackson.
Eventually Royton made it to 156-9 off their 40 overs due largely to the innings of Laskey.
Mark Tierney decided to open the innings himself together with promising youngster Hussain Shahid.
Mark hit a quickfire 25 before becoming a victim of 1st teamer Jackson who was stepping out for the third team on this occasion.
This brought Zain Ul Ahedin to the wicket and he provided a firm base of defence as he and Shahid cemented the Middleton response and took the score to 74.
At this point Shahid was then bowled for 28 by Jackson which included four excellently stroked fours. Both Hussain and Ahedin look good prospects and will only get better under the excellent Middleton tutorage.
Shahid was then replaced by true club man Matt Collins who stroked three well placed fours in a quickfire 17 which pushed the score along nicely to 101 and this brought James “Chippy “Tierney to the wicket .
Not in the mood to hang around the 16-year-old Tierney pulverised the Royton bowling to every angle of the ground, six fours and three sixes took him in no time to 42.
One six in particular landed high on the pavilion steps, not quite clearing the pavilion a feat which has only been achieved once this year by Shaw’s , Jameel Stuart.
A devastating innings from Chippy meant that the match was won with 13 overs still remaining. A man of the match performance from young James.
With the season approaching its climax Middleton have plenty to play for on all three fronts, whilst plans are also in place for the Tom Hardman memorial game on 8th September.
Tom is a much missed Middleton player sadly passed away in 2012 at the age of twenty one.
The current Middleton first team will be playing a team of Old Middleton legends including the record run holder Harry Nicholls.
Starting at 5pm it promises to be a great match followed by an evenings entertainment from live band 10cclo. Please support this worthwhile event with all proceeds to charity.
Harry Aikenhead, 13, took two wickets
Middleton celebrate a wicket