Bangor hosted Donaghcloney Mill in the first game of the second round of the league season. Bangor, who were sitting pretty with 6 wins from 9 games, were favourites against a ‘Cloney Mill side who were near the foot of the table having only recorded 2 wins to date. That being said, Bangor were missing two important batsmen in McCollum and McCusker who were away with “commitments unrelated in any way to the 12th of July holidays”.
Visiting skipper, Derby, lost the toss and was asked to field first on a true, but dry wicket. With regular opener McCollum away, James Patteron was asked to join Burns at the top of the order. After a glorious boundary, James left a delivery that seamed back viciously, trapping the left-hander LBW for 4. Nixon joined Burns in time to see the latter bowled by youngster Luke Allison for 2 to leave Bangor in the precarious, and unfamiliar position of 6 for 2.
Khan and Nixon carefully compiled 52 runs before Nixon was excellently caught for 33 by Dawson at first slip giving the evergreen Hanna his first of 3 wickets. Khan was in great form, putting on meaningful contributions with Chris Yeates, Ricky McLarnon (19), and then the sandwichless-Taj Kwelu (38*), as he made a brilliant 76.
Bangor did fantastically well to bat the entire 50 overs, as at one point it looked like at least 10 overs would go unused. There were handy contributions all the way down as Griphon, Prince and Bates all registered double figures batting with the flamboyant Kwelu. On his day, Kwelu can smash it with ease making him a dangerous operator on the circuit. The Bangor total of 242-9 was always going to be a tough challenge for a team as low in confidence as Donaghcloney.
After a tea that was noticeably one light on sandwiches (Kwelu), Bangor regathered on the parched Upritchard Park surface to concentrate on the task at hand. Batting hero Khan opened the bowling with Nixon in the now windy conditions. The away openers Harland and Warren looked to bat conservatively, potentially in an effort to protect star batman Dawson hiding down at number 4. Nixon was the first to strike, having Warren caught for 17, as ‘Cloney sat on 27-1 after 10 overs. In the next over, Warren’s partner dug himself a hole, edging Josh Bates to McLarnon for a sluggish 9. Bates was clearly fired up as his fan club watched on in sheer admiration as Josh hit a hard length repeatedly.
Speaking of an impressive length, the aforementioned Kwelu found a beautiful area of the wicket during his spell despite some fine batting from Lyttle and Dawson. The increased pressure being built by Patterson, Prince, Bates and Burns lead to the big wicket of Dawson for 61, as Kwelu removed middle stump much to the delight of the large crowd that had built up. Lyttle fell soon after reaching his 50, expertly caught by Stu Johnson at point. With the score on 172-5 after 40 overs, the game was very much in the balance.
Captain Derby, who was given a reprieve by Nixon at cover, was batting with skill and intent which created a very interesting finish. Nixon returned to the bowling dismissing McCart first ball via an incredible catch by veteran ‘keeper McLarnon. The very next ball, Fisher paid the price of missing a yorker to swing the game in Bangor’s favour at 185-7. Nixon then removed Allison for 2 as it became clear that it was now a case of Bangor against Derby to decide who claimed the 4 points.
Derby was hitting some brave sweeps off Khan as the away-side inched closer to the Bangor total. There were no nails left in the ground as the equation read ‘13 runs off 6 balls’. Bates, who mentally had not fully recovered from his beloved England not bringing home the World Cup, was asked to bowl the final over. Derby hit one of his trade-mark sweeps for 4 first ball, sending the ‘Cloney bench in hysterics. Unfortunately for Derby, the next ball he took an ill-fated single as Bates hunted down a ball like a Croatian full-back to run out McClure. Singles were exchanged before 5 was needed off the final ball with number 11 Hanna on strike. Bates ran in like Luca Modric, seemingly defying fatigue, to deliver a beautiful away swinger that Hanna edged to the cat-like Griffyn at cover to seal a fantastic Bangor victory by 4 runs.
Bangor now sit tied in 2nd place with an away fixture against Cregagh to look forward to next Saturday. Once again, Bangor would like to thank the generous support they receive.