ST ASAPH 192-7

THERE was real drama over the weekend as St Asaph suffered the narrowest of North Wales Cricket League Premier Division losses.

The Saints' trip to Northop on Saturday was a thrilling one and the match went the distance, with the Flintshire hosts managing to edge their way to a one-wicket margin of success.

Winning the pre-match toss was Northop skipper Gareth Williams, who invited the visitors to make first use of the batting track.

St Asaph's innings didn't get off to the best of starts and only three runs were on the scoreboard when opener Mathew Ryan was trapped leg before by James Birch, who was the pick of the home bowling attack.

The in-form Duncan Midgley scored 18 for the visiting side, being caught by Ammar Mahmood off the bowling of Birch.

Mahmood then got in on the wicket-taking act when he bowled Saints' skipper Will Ryan.

With St Asaph on 53-3, Northop held the upper hand at this point.

However, the visitors' response was first rate thanks to the efforts of Nathanael Scott and Daniel Williams.

The dynamic duo put together a fine fourth wicket stand of 98 to improve St Asaph's hopes of securing an away day win.

This partnership eventually came to an end with the team total on 151, with Williams being run out for 43.

This knock included five fours and a six.

The visitors lost another wicket shortly afterwards with Danny Ryan being bowled by Matthew Mullarkey.

Nathanael Scott proved to be the star man as far as the Saints were concerned and he top scored with a brilliant knock of 80 before be was dismissed by Mark Poynton.

Jason Foulkes added 17 not out and St Asaph's 50 overs eventually yielded a competitive 192-7.

James Birch was the star man with the ball thanks to his 3-42 return in 11 overs, while there were also wickets for the likes of Mark Poynton (1-33), Ammar Mahmood (1-32) and Matthew Mullarkey (1-17).

St Asaph made a bright beginning when it was their turn to take to the field after tea.

Causing the bulk of the early damage was Jason Foulkes.

Northop had scored 19 runs when opener Alex Gill departed the crease, being bowled by Foulkes.

Foulkes was at it again when he bowled opener Amma Mahmood for 18.

When Chris Brooks was trapped leg before by Foulkes without troubling the scorers, Northop were in a fair amount of bother on 36-3.

Looking to recover the situation for the home side were Andrew Oates and captain Gareth Williams, who put together a partnership of 33 for the fourth wicket.

Back came the Saints, though, and Williams was dismissed for 13, being caught by Daniel Williams off the bowling of Liam Moores.

Northop looked to spark another recovery and there was a 37-run stand for the fifth wicket, compiled by Andy Poynton and Andrew Oates.

Oates would eventually depart for 48 when he was caught by Danny Ryan off the bowling of Will Ryan.

Ryan then bowled Danny Nicholson from his next delivery and with Northop on 106-6, St Asaph were red hot favourites to claim victory.

There was to be a sting in the tail, though, and Northop dragged themselves right back into the encounter via a superb 70-run partnership for the seventh wicket.

This crucial stand was compiled by Matthew Mullarkey and Andy Poynton.

With fewer than 20 runs required for victory, the Saints did give themselves a glimmer of hope when they brought the big stand to a close.

Mullarkey was the batsman out for 28 when he was caught by Duncan Midgley off the bowling of Danny Ryan.

This sparked a St Asaph fightback, with Northop losing three wickets for only nine runs at a crucial point of the innings.

Danny Ryan bowled James Birch, prior to Will Ryan claiming the prized wicket of Andrew Oates for 48.

The match could now go either way, with Northop requiring eight runs, while St Asaph needed just one more wicket.

In the end, Bart Ryan Beswick's knock of 12 not out proved to be crucial as Northop reached a winning 193-9 with 14 deliveries to spare.

Jason Foulkes was fantastic with the ball from the perspective of St Asaph and he finished up with a 4-38 haul from 10 overs.

Danny Ryan (2-46) and Will Ryan (2-57) also played their part, with the remaining wicket falling to Liam Moores (1-21).

When the dust had settled, Northop claimed 11 points, while St Asaph walked away with four points.