So Near And Yet So Far For 1sts In Battle To Avoid Relegation

Barrow Gurney 1st XI ended their season with a win in a close game at Stapleton which momentarily held out the prospect of avoiding relegation until news came through that Chew Magna had managed to accrue sufficient bonus points to just pip Barrow to the post. Ali Hood reports:
The 1st XI arrived at Stapleton for the final league game of the season with an outside chance of avoiding relegation if they won and other results and bonus point combinations went their way. Paul Glazzard went out to toss up and returned with news not only that Barrow would bowl first but some quirky local rules about what was a four or a six on Stapleton’s unusually narrow ground with short boundaries on both sides of the wicket, in reality there wasn’t a single shot all day that came close to testing the local rules.

James Riley got some good bounce and carry in his opening spell but despite a couple of close calls couldn’t make the early breakthrough, he was joined by Mark Fisher who bowled without quite finding his best line and length. Matt Owen replaced Riley and got the classic sucker punch wicket with a full bunger that the opener could only guide to Riley at cover (this was his final game before retiring so probably not quite the end he had in mind). After an untidy first 3 overs Matt started to bowl well and completed his 9 overs in a single spell finishing up with a decent return of 3-44 accounting for all of Stapleton’s top 3. With Frank Forge producing 9 miserly overs at the other end (0-23 from 9) the game was well poised heading into the final 3rd with Stapleton looking to push on with wickets in hand but not finding it easy as Kieran Owen (1-36), Glazzard (3-26) and Riley with a couple of tail end wickets restricted the scoring rate with good support from their fielders holding on to tricky catches. The one down side for Barrow in restricting Stapleton to 181-9 was that they did not bowl them out meaning that even with a win they could only get 28 points, not the maximum 30.

Barrow’s reply got off to a flyer with a flurry of boundaries as they raced to 30 in 4 overs before Glazzard fell unexpectedly misjudging a straight one. There then followed one of Barrow’s least glorious passages of play as both Guy and Mark Fisher and Ali Hood fell to poor shots then Jones was trapped in front leaving Barrow suddenly 40 odd for 5 with any victory thoughts seemingly just a distant dream. Will Kerswell and James Riley got the team through to drinks with no further alarm and without playing many shots as Barrow kept well up with the run thanks to leg side wides! Will (26) went shortly after drinks when he got a leading edge as he tried to work one into the onside, it wasn’t the most fluent innings by Will but it was invaluable and kept Barrow in the game albeit still with a lot to do at 108-6. Riley was supported by James Halladay and then Kieran Owen with a couple of sweetly struck fours taking the score to 147- 8. Stapleton scented victory but Barrow knew they had a secret weapon at no 10 in Frank Forge, whose game appears to be tailor made for these situations where the team need to squeeze out the runs with no real worries about the scoring rate as there were plenty of overs left. Barrow had progressed to about 160 when the game changing over came along that swung it firmly in their direction, as a no ball was put away for runs, 5 wides were conceded and a tight single became a five with an overthrow. As the innings entered the 40th over Riley took strike with the team needing 5 to win – the first ball was full and wide down the legside flying past the keeper and all the way to the rope leading to a Barrow victory by 2 wickets. Riley (46 not out) played very well reigning in his attacking instincts for a steadier progress that also allowed the team to capitalise on the extras that Stapleton were offering and he was well supported by Will and the lower order giving Barrow a thoroughly deserved win.

At the end of the game there was brief excitement as news filtered through that Chew Magna 2nds had lost leading to speculation that Barrow had achieved the unlikely and beaten relegation but unfortunately they picked up 5 bonus points that kept them ahead and YMCA’s victory over Shirehampton confirmed Barrow in 9th place but back to back wins was a good way to finish the season and there is every reason to feel confident that this young team will have many more better days in the years ahead.