Morecambe hold nerve for Netherfield win

Morecambe's Ryan Pearson hit 45 against Netherfield. Picture: Tony North
Morecambe's Ryan Pearson hit 45 against Netherfield. Picture: Tony North
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Morecambe picked up a fine two-wicket win over Netherfield at Woodhill Lane on Saturday.

Batting first the visitors made 153-9 before the hosts made sure of victory inside 45 overs for the loss of eight wickets.

With skipper Tommy Clough being ruled out of action late on Friday evening due to tendonitis in his shoulder it was left to his vice-captain Josh Dixon to deputise and the opening batsman lost the toss with his side asked to bowl.

The decision was called into question early on with professional Kelly Smuts snaring Ben Barrow second ball as he looked to push at a ball outside his off stump.

The South African was ably supported by the ever-improving Yakub Bhamji who enticed Australian import Ben Philips to flash hard only to find the diving Ikram Ullah at second slip who took a wonderful catch.

Suddenly Netherfield were in trouble and Morecambe continued to attack collecting the wicket of John Huck who didn’t trouble the scorers.

Skipper Marc Brown and professional Saliya Saman attempted to engineer a revival but Saman, rattled by a Bhamji delivery earlier in the over which struck him on the glove, drove straight to the diving Smuts as he departed for six.

Morecambe were well on top and although Brown and new man Tom Williamson rotated the strike against the change bowling of Ayush Sharma and Gert Maartens the pair never threatened to hurt the hosts.

Brown fell for a hard-fought 44 and Williamson was joined by Joe Atkinson (23) with the Lancaster Royal Grammar School pair combing well but again never looking like taking the game away from Morecambe.

Both departed before the close to the brilliant Bhamji who claimed yet another five-wicket haul ensuring Netherfield finished on a well below par 153-9.

Morecambe’s response started awfully however as openers Ullah and Dixon fell early.

The middle order stepped up however with the three dependables in Smuts, Ryan Pearson and Lewis Edge continuing their fine form.

Smuts combined calmly and serenely with the ever maturing Pearson, taking Morecambe further and further into the ascendancy.

The pair took Morecambe to 85 before Smuts (47) fell to an unfortunate delivery which kept low.

Pearson, along with his trusty partner Lewis Edge (23), continued to look in good touch but was to fall yet again agonisingly close of his maiden league half century as he departed for 45.

Tight finishes are the norm for Morecambe this season and with the Woodhill Lane outfit seemingly easing to victory Edge, Pearson, Jordan Willoughby and James Law were back in the pavilion and with just 20 required it was left to the lower order to do the business again.

The experience of Craig Atkinson (18) and the flamboyance of Yakub Bhamji crept the hosts towards Netherfield’s 153 but there was to be another twist as Atkinson was trapped in front by the returning Salman with just two required.

However the cool, calm and collected Maartens struck the next ball for a couple to give Morecambe and stand-in skipper Dixon victory and a hard-earned 12 points.