Gough Keeps Wellington On The Stretton Narrow
By David Ross
Wellington 3rds bounced back from consecutive defeats with a hard-fought victory at Church Stretton.
Having been humbled by heavy reversals at Cae Glas and at home to Shrewsbury, Wellington had a point to prove as they travelled to south Shropshire on Saturday afternoon.
Stand-in skipper Dave Ross played the role of Georg Von Trapp in this one, leading out a Wellington side that included seven fresh-faced youngsters.
It was a much-changed line-up, with six of the top eight against Shrewsbury either promoted or unavailable. Nevertheless the away side showed more composure and match awareness than in their previous outing, chasing down a total of 156 with three wickets and 11 balls to spare.
In the first innings, Wellington's young side had found themselves staring down the barrel of a third defeat in a row as Stetton advanced to 128 for 2, despite a wicket each from the impressive George Topper and Ryan Lloyd.
Stretton's Rob Whittall (82) and Peter Lee (25) put on a large stand and seemed well-placed to steer their team past 200. However when Lewis Gough intervened to remove both players shortly after drinks - the former to a fantastic caught and bowled - the Stretton batting line-up dissolved.
The leg-spinner ran through the order claiming 6 for 42 as the last eight wickets fell for just 38 runs in a turnaround reminiscent of the recent game at a Welshpool.
In unlikely circumstances, Wellington were therefore set a very gettable target of 157 for victory - but, with much of their regular batting missing, this was by no means a formality.
Openers Duncan Taylor (20) and Sam Topper (35) gave their side exactly the start they required before they were dismissed either side of drinks.
Débutante Luke Goring (15), Matt Earley (15) and Rachael Howells (12) advanced the scoreboard nicely, with the two youngsters sharing a mature fourth-wicket stand which set the game up for Wellington with ten overs left - 47 needed.
Wellington found their heroes in Ian Murphy (23*) and Ryan Lloyd (23) whose partnership managed to find the boundary with enough regularity to heap the pressure back on to the home side.
Despite a couple of late wickets, Smurph managed to squeeze the first ball of the 45th over to point and secure a much-needed and hard-earned 20 points for Wellington.
The 3rd team remain firmly in the promotion picture with six games to play after favourable results at the weekend. All to play for when a crimson-faced Pitchy puts down his pina colada and returns to lead the side against Montgomery.