Bury beat Horsford off penultimate ball to move off bottom spot in EAPL
- Credit: Archant
Bury St Edmunds looked doomed to finish rock bottom of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier Division, only a month ago, but suddenly a superb run of four straight wins has seen them incredibly move off the basement.
Following on from their victories over Mildenhall, Cambridge Granta and Norwich, in-form Bury made it four-in-a-row with an exciting two-wicket win over Horsford at The Victory Ground on Saturday.
Bury held their nerve at the death, with Sean Cooper striking the winning runs off the penultimate ball of the match.
The news that lowly rivals Norwich had lost again, away at Copdock & Old Ipswichian, meant that Bury were finally off the bottom rung of the ladder.
With three fixtures remaining, Sean Park’s men are now 12 points clear of Norwich, and so are now in charge of their own destiny.
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They have certainly given themselves an excellent chance of avoiding the perils of a play-off match, against the champions from one of the three feeder leagues, to decide their EAPL future for next season.
“It’s in our own hands. We have just got to match whatever Norwich do over the next three weeks,” explained skipper Park.
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“If they win then we need to win, and if they lose it doesn’t matter, but we don’t really want it to come down to the last weekend if there are only 20 points in it.
“Of course confidence is high. That comes with winning matches. Playing suddenly becomes easier, when you have that momentum.
“It was looking very bleak, four weeks earlier, but that’s all changed now. And if we do end up finishing below Norwich, then we will at least be going into that play-off match with a lot of belief and some momentum behind us.
“We have now won five matches this season, and in past years that has usually been enough to guarantee you staying up.
“But this season has been different. It’s been a lot tougher, as seen in the four teams above us and Norwich, who are separated by only five points,” added Park.
After Park had won the toss and elected to field, his Bury side did well to restrict Horsford to 193 for nine off 50 overs.
Some excellent bowling from George Loyd did the early damage, while Cooper bowled very economically to put the brakes on the Norfolk visitors, before James McKinney weighed in with three late wickets.
Openers Chad Bowes (35) and Luke Findlay (23) put on 61 for the first wicket, before the impressive Loyd bowled Bowes and then followed up by having Will Rogers caught first ball by wicketkeeper Alfie Marston. Loyd also had Stephan Marillier dismissed in a similar fashion, caught behind by Marston, to leave Horsford tottering on 68 for three.
That soon became 76 for four, with Cooper having the stubborn Luke Findlay caught by Dominic Manthorpe.
Cooper went on to post eye-catching figures of 10-3-17-1, as Horsford steadily recovered with a patient stand of 70 for the fifth wicket between youngster William Woodhead (20 off 72 balls) and Chris Read (46).
Loyd took three for 26 off seven overs, and spinner McKinney claimed three for 15 off three overs at the end to peg back the visitors.
The match was in the balance for much of Bury’s reply.
Park takes up the story: “George Loyd had bowled ever so well in their innings. He hadn’t been selected for a couple of matches, due to all our bowling options, but he got his chance and he took it.
“He also went on to score 20-odd runs late on, so I think he was our man-of-the-match.
“I thought we were going to be looking at chasing a target of 240, so I was very happy to keep them down to 193.
“James (McKinney) bowled well at the end. Those last few overs can always be a bit of a lottery, especially for a spinner. It can go pear-shaped, but James took some wickets.
“We lost regular wickets in our reply, and there weren’t any big partnerships. There were several stands of 20-odd runs, and Dominic Manthorpe (23) and I did manage to put on 58 for the fifth wicket.
“But Dominic then had a rush of blood, coming down the wicket to be bowled by Chris Brown, and Luke Du Plooy and I also lost our wickets quickly.
“At 149 for seven, the advantage was with the bowling side.
“But Josh Cantrell (14 off 17 balls) batted well, before he was run out, and then George Loyd (24 not out) and Sean (Cooper) saw us home.
“We needed four off the last over. The first two balls were dot balls, and then Sean was dropped at deep mid-wicket, for which they managed to get two runs.
“The fourth was also a dot ball, which left two runs needed off two balls. Sean hit the next one straight back for four to win us the match,” added Park.