Eastern review - 2014 week 7
Watsonians skipper Ewan Chalmers couldn’t mask his frustration as he looked back on a wasted opportunity to take the prized scalp of champions Arbroath.
Not for the first time this season, the Lochlands brigade had to dig themselves out of a deep hole, however Chalmers insisted the race for the title is wide open, despite their winning streak.
At 140 for five, Sonians had looked on course to chase down a target of 193 at Myreside, however wickets began to tumble as the pressure mounted and they were shot out for 174.
Chalmers said: “We should have finished the job. Too many wides in the Arbroath innings cost us - and then we lost batsmen at crucial moments.
“The dismissal of Dewald Nel at four down turned out to be a big moment.
“It was a pitch on which wicket-balls were always just around the corner and that is what happened.
“Arbroath have cultivated the habit of closing out these tight games when defending modest totals.
“I am sure they will be there or thereabouts again when the league positions are settled in August, especially if that trend continues.
“But the competition is very, very even and anyone can beat a rival on their day.”
Relieved Arbroath captain Marc Petrie declared: “Believe me, if we could find a way to win with less tension, we would jump at it!
“Although we're not playing particularly well, we are still winning games which is the most important thing.
“The performance at Myreside followed the pattern of the campaign - no consistency with the batting and nobody kicking on to make a big score that gets us up to at least 250.
“Fortunately our team spirit and togetherness is getting us through pressure situations in the field.
“We will continue to work hard at training to make sure we compile a full performance and I have faith that we can bring it together.”
The success kept Arbroath at the head of the table, which has taken on a decidedly north/south appearance.
Forfarshire’s demolition job on Falkland kept them in second place, ahead of Aberdeenshire, who surged back to form to slap down the challenge of Grange in a low-scoring encounter at Mannofield.
Falkland were undone by a five-wicked haul for Umair Mohammad, which sent them sliding to 127 all out in reply to 161 at Forthill.
And had it not been for a brave rearguard act by Simon Smith, Grange might have been claiming space in the record books for the wrong reasons.
At 11 for seven, they were staring at the lowest tally in the competition’s history, however “Smudger” ground out a brave unbeaten half century to guide them to 116.
The pursuit proved no cruise for the hosts, especially when they surrendered five wickets for 25, but they eventually staved off the jitters to take the honours.
Elsewhere, former Scotland star Fraser Watts turned back the clock with a fine 134 not out at Goldenacre to set up Carlton’s 13-run victory over Heriot’s.
And another ex-Saltire, Cedric English, hit 70 to help SMRH defeat Stoneywood-Dyde at Peoples Park.
The batting skills of Graeme Beghin shone through again as Glenrothes maintained their momentum at the top of the Eastern Championship.
Tight bowling by the Fifers had curbed Grange’s second stringers to 132 for nine at Raeburn Place.
Then Beghin (66 not out) and Ben Wilkinson (34 not out) combined to complete the quick and comfortable eight-wicket success.
The fragility of the Grange men at the cease was illustrated by the fact that veterans Giles Holmes and Stuey Davidson scored 80 of their runs between them.
West Lothian stepped up their revival by hammering Carlton Twos at Grange Loan.
Rhys Denby thumped an unbeaten 80 to guide them past the target of 123 with nine wickets to spare.
Edinburgh South crushed MDAFS on home turf, while Holy Cross edged out Penicuik at Kirkhill.
The Freuchie v Corstorphine tussle was washed out.