CSL Western Premiership Review
They have had to wait – and suffer a bit – for six long weeks but that made the feeling all the sweeter when West of Scotland finally won their first game of the season on Saturday.
Facing Renfrew, a side in a similar predicament at the foot of the table, it was never likely to be a free-scoring affair at Hamilton Crescent and so it proved as the visitors were bundled out for just 100.
To a team full of confidence, chasing such a total may have been a breeze but, perhaps inevitably, West stumbled rather than swaggered towards the line.
Indeed, at 60-6, there were some sceptics among home supporters who maybe feared a fifth defeat instead of a maiden win.
However, Gavin Smith and Dave McNulty, who had earlier starred with the ball, carried that form into their batting to see their side home without further loss.
Gregg Watson, savouring his first league success since becoming captain, said: “It was a massive win.
“The bowlers were great as always. Renfrew got a good start and were 50-1 but as has been the case all season we never gave up and Smith and McNulty got their three wickets each.
“We then had a bit of a collapse due to poor shot selection but Smith and McNulty put on a great 40 to see us home.”
Emphasising the importance of the result, Watson added: “It was probably a must-win to be honest.
“The guys have been great all year and morale has been high but we just needed that win to get us going and I'm sure with that bit of confidence we can kick on.
“I know the group we have are more than capable of pushing for a top half finish. For me personally I'm just delighted for the boys who've been training hard and have never given up.”
For Renfrew the wait for a win goes on and it will get no easier on Saturday when they visit a Clydesdale side who are riding high following a battling win against champions Ayr at Titwood.
Chasing Ayr’s 164 after Lenert Van Wyk had hit 55, Dale were deep in trouble when they slumped to 100-7.
Their cause looked completely lost when Abdul Sabri then departed for a well-compiled 62.
Forty-four runs were still needed from their last two wickets and Ayr, sensing blood, had their tails up.
However, Ahmed Chaudhry and Akram Shakoor held their nerve to pick off the runs required, keeping Clydesdale in top spot and sending Ayr to a damaging third defeat of the campaign.
If Clydesdale’s batsmen came back from the dead, it was East Kilbride’s bowlers who produced a Houdini Act to win at Ferguslie.
Having posted 190-9 with Muhammad Ramzan top-scoring on 71, EK were up against it as the hosts motored to 101-1.
However, the departure of Zimbabwean Keith Dabengwa for a top score of 46 sparked an astonishing collapse that saw the Paisley side lose nine wickets for just 29 runs.
Dabengwa was the first of Moneeb Iqbal’s six victims while Ramzan completed an excellent all-round display with the other four wickets.
EK skipper Josh Johnston said: “It was a brilliant spell of bowling by both Moneeb and Ramzan.
“The Ferguslie batsmen came out hard so my only option was to keep rotating the bowling to get the breakthrough.
“It was a brilliant wicket to bat on so the bowlers had to be on point and Moneeb definitely was. He was spinning it big both ways and that had their batsmen in trouble.”
East Kilbride share second place with Kelburne whose excellent season continued at Uddingston where Scott Hamilton, with five wickets, and Qasim Sheikh (43no) were the stars of an eight-wicket win.
It was another major disappointment for 2013 champions Uddingston and their Lanarkshire neighbours Drumpellier fared no better as Dumfries claimed a five-wicket win at Langloan.
Chris McCutcheon claimed four wickets and Niall Alexander three as Drumps were dismissed for 129 before Chris Bellwood’s 35no steered the visitors to victory by five wickets.