PRESTWICH CC: Champions lose their grip on title after narrow loss to Denton West

REIGNING champions Prestwich relinquished their league championship – but only after a humdinger against their closest rivals Denton West.

The must-win match for the Heys side went down to the wire but their opponents scraped home by two wickets to clinch the Lancashire County League title. Saturday’s crunch game at Windsor Park was a real thriller and witnessed a remarkable performance from Sam Holden with bat and ball. After blasting 37 in just 20 balls, he then took seven of West’s eight wickets to fall in a tremendous display of fast bowling. Indeed, this firecracker of a match sparkled with action right from the opening over when West pro Steve Oddy grabbed the wicket of James Wharmby with his fifth delivery, caught by Andy O’Brien at first slip. Prestwich pro Carl Hey was snapped up by Dave Morrell for 13, caught by Hamish Dunlop at point, with the score on 16.

Holden then went on the offensive, hitting his first ball for four, stunning the home side with a series of extravagant strokeplay and powerful hitting, which included a six off Oddy over the clubhouse.

However, the fireworks ended when Holden played one attacking in shot too many, and skied to Dunlop at backward point to give Oddy a second scalp, leaving Prestwich on 57-3 with 11 overs gone.

Steve Orrell had dug a trench at one end but fell victim to Hamish Dunlop for 11 to make it 75-4. That started a quick flow of wickets, save for an impressive innings from Tom Gibson.

Only some late resistance from Wilf Reeve (11) and skipper Andy Bradley, who hit a huge six in his 10 not out, pushed the score towards respectability.

Gibson hit four boundaries and was last man to fall when he played onto his stumps for 41. Dunlop (4-40) and Oddy (4-59) were the main protagonists for West, and while a score of 135 was below par, it was certainly going to test the West mettle.

And so it was the turn of Holden to put the opposing batsmen on the rack as he took the first four wickets with just 32 on the board. Captain Mike Berry fell to Holden when he mistimed a pull shot and Oliver Holt took a simple catch.

Mike Schofield nicked to wicketkeeper Wharmby and John McAllister’s middle stump was clipped as Holden struck again. But a stand of 62 between John Barnett and Dunlop proved decisive, and it was not until Holden was re-introduced into the attack after a short breather, that Prestwich gained another success, Barnett out lbw for 37.

Dunlop was then run out for 25 thanks to good work from Tousuf Miran and the game – at 110-6 – was back in the balance.

Holden struck twice more: Morrell for 16 and John Foreman for six, but Oddy struck the winning runs to his side’s relief.

Prestwich were denied the chance of victory in their last home game a day later by bad light and rain, losing to Dukinfield on run rate.

Dukinfield had amassed a challenging target of 223, though Prestwich made healthy progress in reply despite losing Wharmby for 15 with the score on 43 and Orrell for a solid 31.

Rain then caused the game to be abandoned. It left Prestwich 25 runs adrift of the required run rate, despite being well poised at 124-3 and Hey unbeaten on 44.

The Heys side travel to Flowery Field on Saturday looking to end the season on a high note.

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