BANGOR climbed to fifth spot in Section Two after a hard fought three-wicket win over close neighbours Ards & Donaghadee at Upritchard Park on Saturday.
The visitors won the toss and chose to bat first under leaden skies on a true and hard wicket, meaning conditions suited both sides in some way and a good start for either could prove pivotal. After the opening salvos of the game not much could split both sides, with the score on 45-2 in the 11th over with Michael Skelly and Andrew Gowdy picking up a wicket each, including a sensational catch by Kuda Samunderu for the latter wicket out in the deep.
With the game in the balance still, it was the visitors who would assert themselves, and with Michael Martin and Sam Ingham dictating the pace of play, the score would reach 90-2 at the halfway stage. Skipper Jonny Parker had to resort to creative tactics by chopping and changing his bowlers and setting some funky fields to force the breakthrough. Martin, making his first return to Upritchard Park since leaving Bangor, picked up a well-deserved half century before departing next ball with Sam McMillan sending his middle stump cartwheeling.
The platform was set for the visitors to set a healthy score and the other set batsman Ingham passed his half century as well, before he fell with the score on 158-4 in the 32nd over. The visitors would have been eyeing up a score around 220 at this stage and to Bangor’s credit, the bowlers fought back, picking up wickets regularly and limiting the batsman to finishing up on 200 all out at the end of the 40 overs. The pick of the bowlers was Michael Skelly, whose promising season continued with figures of 4-33. Sam McMillan picked up two wickets and a wicket apiece for Prince, Gowdy and Samunderu.
A score of 201 was set for Bangor and the home side got off to a good start thanks in large part to the in-form Sam McMillan, who was scoring quicker than a run a ball and the visitors desperately needed his wicket. The visitors, to their credit, didn’t let their heads drop and picked up three quick wickets of McMillan, Keenan and Samunderu thanks to the crafty McNamara and Bangor were in a spot of bother at 74-3 after 14 overs.
Bangor suffered another blow when McCusker was caught just before the drinks break and the score was 99-4 after 20 overs; the game was finely poised.
The home side knew one big partnership should carry them to victory and the in-form Parker and Kirkpatrick set about doing just that. They batted beautifully in their chanceless 89 run partnership manoeuvring the ball into the gaps and picking up their boundaries when they could. Kirkpatrick fell for 44 in the 36th over just 16 runs short of the target and Bangor stumbled a bit over the finish line, with Aitken picking up two quick wickets in the 37th over.
Looking for redemption from the BISC loss, Paddy English strode to the crease purposefully and much like Zak Crawley in the Ashes, crunched his first delivery to the boundary for four and shortly thereafter, skipper Parker hit the running runs as Bangor won by three wickets with 11 balls remaining.
It was a great game between two evenly matched teams on the day and certainly not a fair reflection of the visitors’ position in the league table.
There’s a break from the league for Bangor this week when on Saturday, they travel to Cooke Collegians in a Quarter Final clash in the Junior Cup. Tonight (Thursday), they’ll host Larne in a T20 Cup Semi Final at Upritchard Park. The bar will be open from 7pm and all support will be welcome to cheer the side on to make the final.