Second XI record crucial victory to stave off relegation

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Ballymena Second XI ensured they will play their cricket in Junior Two next season with a crucial victory at the weekend.

In what was potentially their last game of the season - and therefore a must-win - Stephen Colgan’s men triumphed by seven wickets against CSNI.

Winning the toss Ballymena fielded first searching for a quick breakthrough with opening bowlers Mathew Purse and Fergus Taylor.

The fielding team didn’t have long to wait for that first wicket, with Taylor who bowled a good line and length throughout his spell of 5 overs, taking wickets in the fourth and sixth overs of the game.

At the other end, Mathew Purse as always bowled consistently, and in his third over probably bowled the ball of the game, an in swinging Yorker that clean bowled the opposition’s batsman.

With the opening pair taking 3 wickets for a total of only 24 runs, Colgan turned to Michael Taylor and Andrew Craig.

Taylor who was the outstanding bowler for the Second XI last Friday against Academy, found the going slightly tougher, being despatched for 20 runs in his first 3 overs as CSNI looked to fight back into the game. However Michael remained dogged in his approach, and with a little consistency was rewarded with 2 wickets.

Andrew Craig who opened his spell with a loose first over, probably bowled his best spell of the season with figures of 7 overs for just 18 runs taking one wicket.

Continuing with spin, young Sam Glass again bowled a short and effective spell taking 3 wickets in just 3 overs. Sam’s overall control of the ball is outstanding for spin bowler of his age and has no doubt secured his spot in the second XI next year.

With the bowlers ripping through CSNI for just 80 runs, Ballymena opening batsmen Colgan and Montgomery started well with a partnership of 39.

On this occasion it was David Montgomery who excelled with the bat playing his trademark cover drive on a number of occasions. Montgomery finished off his season with a well-deserved 39, an innings that consisted of 6 fours.

The most important win of the year for the Ballymena side came in the 18th over, with a compelling victory of 7 wickets.

On reflection, this season has certainly been a challenging one for the reserve team.

Skipper Colgan will look forward to hopefully a full season at the crease next year after a frustrating injury, and player availability and squad numbers remain a concern.

Club players such as Paul Campbell, Trevor McBurney, Andrew Craig, and David Montgomery, all played vital parts in Ballymena’s survival in Junior 2.

Matthew Purse and Jack Gibson, in Colgan’s opinion, took a step closer toward premier league cricket with outstanding contributions throughout the year while Neil Fullerton’s experience, influence, and overall standard of play remains absolutely key in a club right in the middle of transition.