Morecambe battle hard for Leyland losing draw

Leyland wicketkeeper Tom Murray watches on as Morecambe opener Jordan Willoughby plays a shot to the leg side
Leyland wicketkeeper Tom Murray watches on as Morecambe opener Jordan Willoughby plays a shot to the leg side
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Morecambe battled hard to secure a losing draw as high-flying Leyland visited Woodhill Lane on Saturday.

Winning the toss home skipper Tommy Clough inserted the visitors on a pitch with a slight green tinge in the hope of collecting several early wickets.

Morecambe professional Kelly Smuts celebrates a wicket against Leyland. Picture: Tony North

Morecambe professional Kelly Smuts celebrates a wicket against Leyland. Picture: Tony North

The captain was rewarded as professional Kelly Smuts found the outside edge of young Jonathan Mote’s bat for just five.

Cue Leyland professional Alex Ross and the Australian flew out of the blocks striking three tremendous boundaries within his first 10 balls before Yakub Bhamji lured him into one shot too many and Smuts took a superb catch.

Not long after the Bhamji and Smuts show was to continue as the South African again took an excellent diving catch to dismiss the Leeds/Bradford Universities player Henry Thompson for a duck reducing Leyland to 49-4.

Morecambe’s good fortune was to end here however as Nathan McDonnell (82) and Andrew Makinson (65 not out) played wonderfully on a pitch which flattened out as the day went on.

The pair carefully rotated the strike before using their power to dominate the Morecambe bowling finding the boundary with regularity and ease.

Their partnership of 115 ensured the game was taken away from the hosts and when McDonnell was to fall for a superb 82 it gave licence to stroke makers like Karl Cross (33) who ensured that alongside Makinson, Leyland reached the superb total of 231.

Changing their opening partnership of recent weeks Morecambe opened up with stroke makers Ikram Ullah and Jordan Willoughby and the pair combined well on what was still an excellent pitch to bat on.

The duo took the score to almost 50 before Ullah was snared by the ever-present Karl Cross, frustrated by some excellent bowling.

The platform however was in place for the in-form Smuts and he looked again in fine touch striking a boundary off his pads first ball and following it with another two balls later.

It was however not to be his day as Cross bowled a short delivery which Smuts hit hard and low but straight to professional Ross at midwicket who took an excellent catch.

Suddenly the total seemed a long way away and when Lewis Edge and Ryan Pearson, stalwarts of the Morecambe middle order in recent weeks, fell for just eight and 12 respectively Clough’s side were 89-5 and reeling in the 33rd over.

When Adam Derham (two) and James Law (0) fell unfortunately Josh Dixon (20) was left with no option but to play for points.

Alongside Yakub Bhamji (31 not out) the pair tried to rebuild despite the field being brought up around the bat looking at the 140-run mark as a target.

Tempers were flaring as Leyland skipper David Makinson became frustrated by Dixon and Bhamji’s firm defence and selective attacking strokes before he finally got his man removing the former for 20.

Cue skipper Clough (17) who despite ultimately losing his wicket he ensured Morecambe made it over the 140 mark collecting an extra bonus point and ultimately a hard-fought losing draw as they finished on 159-9.