It was mixed fortunes for the Ballymena Seconds this weekend, playing CSNI in a double-header on Friday and Saturday.
Searching for their fourth win in a row on Friday, Ballymena Second XI took the field first at Eaton Park, having won the toss and deciding to bowl.
The home side welcomed back Owen Dick who had been on tour with Ulster Schools to Scotland - a well-deserved selection for young Owen who continues to impress at all levels.
He opened the bowling alongside Anthony Frazer who also continues to excite with ball in hand.
In tricky conditions for both teams, Ballymena got off to a flyer with both Owen and Anthony striking early. Anthony, continued to be economic while Owen bowled with great pace at the other end.
The opening spell from both pace men delivered 3 wickets in short succession.
With CSNI on the ropes, Andrew Craig and Jonathan Brown continued to bowl effectively. Brown with a doubt bowled his best spell for the club so far this season producing figures of 6 overs, 2 wickets for only 8 runs – a fantastic spell from the young man. Craig, bowled 8 overs and as usual proved difficult to play with figures of 8 overs, 2 wickets for 27.
Only one CSNI batmen produced runs of any significance and in general found the going tough on the slow Ballymena pitch.
In the end CSNI totalled 92 and with some accurate bowling, and good fielding Ballymena had won the first half.
Owen Dick ended up with 7 overs, 3 wickets for 32 runs, and A Frazer 8 overs, 2 wickets for 23.
In return, Stephen Colgan and Matthew Dick opened the batting and like the CSNI batsmen found the going tough to start with.
With Matthew departed after a partnership of 25, Colgan pushed on punishing anything loose from the bowling side.
When Colgan played an indecisive shot, being caught for 31 runs, Trevor McBurney took the home side to a four-wicket victory with a hard hitting 18 runs.
In contrast to Friday’s performance and with Colgan, Matthew and Owen Dick on senior duty, Ballymena travelled to CSNI expecting a greater challenge.
This time Ballymena batted first, totalling 158 runs. Stuart Watt and Neill Fullerton where the top performers, with Watt top scoring with 45 runs. Unfortunately, the rain then came and in a reduced overs game CSNI required only 135 runs off 34 overs.
Jonathan Brown continued his good form from Friday with 2 wickets but CSNI gradually reached their target for the loss of 6 wickets.
Although Ballymena’s total was reduced by a rain interval, they certainly could have ran the home side a lot closer, missing several opportunities and catches in the field.
The win on Friday now leaves Colgan’s side four wins out of seven, and third place in the league.
With seven played and halfway through their league programme, Ballymena Seconds remain in a good position to stay in Junior One, after promotion last year.
On Saturday the 3rd XI travelled to Laurelvale with only 9 players, but upon arrival Laurelvale only had 10, so a close game was expected.
Skipper Adam Pogue won the toss, and opted to bat first. 4th XI captain Ali Crease, stepping up to the 3rd XI, opened the batting confidently with Declan O’Boyle before the latter was superbly caught down the leg side by the Laurelvale wicket keeper. This brought Crease junior, Callum, to the middle, and father and son batted superbly well. Callum was eventually out for 30 when the two tried to up the run rate, which brought in the destructive power of Ryan Crooks. He made a quick fire 20, but it was all about Crease the elder, who batted right through the 30 overs to finish 72 not out, as the 3s posted 156 for 4.
In reply, the Crease family were again involved, with Callum taking a catch off the bowling of O’Boyle before taking two wickets of his own but the Laurelvale batsmen able to find the gaps left due to having reduced players on the field.