Ballymena Cricket Club Third XI avenged last week’s cup defeat by Woodvale as they beat the same opponents in a league fixture on Saturday.
Rain had already wiped out a number of games across the country, but the weather held in what was agreed to be a game reduced to 20 overs a side.
The Ballymena side were put in to bat on an artificial wicket, and openers Matt Smith and Stewart Watt made the most of an even bounce and large outfield, finding plenty of gaps early on and running well between the wickets. Smith then started to accelerate, and completed his 50 with a well time pulled shot for 4 to the longest boundary. This also brought up the 100 partnership for the pair.
Watt was soon to follow to 50, the experienced opener more than happy to play second fiddle to young Smith, who is only 15, as he knocked it about for 1s and 2s, scoring only 2 boundaries in his half century. Watt them looked to up his own scoring rate, scoring 2 boundaries in quick succession before holing out looking for another big shot for 58.
This brought the returning Simon McDowell to the crease, who showed glimpses of the form he has shown in previous years by finishing up 26 not out, including 2 big sixes in the final over. Matt Smith finished the 20 overs on 83 not out, as Ballymena posted a formidable looking 175 - 1 at the break.
Ballymena opened their bowling with Matthew Bell and Declan O’Boyle, who both bowled with speed and accuracy, helping to limit the scoring from the off, with Bell claiming an important early wicket. Ethan Archer was then introduced, who bowled with great flight and accuracy, bamboozling the opposition batsmen as he had 3 of them stumped by stand in keeper Watt. McDowell bowled in tandem with Archer, Adam Pogue also claimed one wicket, with Matt Smith completing an all round good day with 2 very tidy overs.
O’Boyle and Bell then returned with some good bowling at the death, as Ballymena ran out comfortable victors to record their first league win.
It was a tough afternoon for a very young Ballymena 4th XI against a much more experienced Armagh 3rd XI.
The home team started with intent with 50 coming up in only the 5th over, a scoring rate that remained constant throughout the innings. Only young spinner Josh Drain was able to make any significant impact.
Chasing a daunting total of 290, the Eaton Park side was always up against it but it wasn’t until the 27th over that they were all out for 90.