Lancaster pulled off the shock of the season on Saturday, casting aside top-of-the-league Barrow and blowing the league title race wide open.
While the city side’s chances of league honours have all but drifted away, their best finish in nearly 25 years beckons, particularly on the back of this performance.
Once again, it was the adaptable Jannisar Khan, this time with ball in hand, who helped pave the way for a Lancaster victory. His hard-working 5-21 was the mainstay of the bowling as Barrow were shot out for just 58.
In hindsight it was a ‘good toss to lose’ for skipper Ben Simm as Daryl Wearing took one look at the Lune Road surface and elected to bowl first. Lancaster’s top order again looked flaky. Jamie Heywood gloved a lifting delivery from Wearing to Chris D’Leny before Alex Metcalfe was trapped LBW by sub pro Adil Raza, 3 for 2.
Jannisar and Charlie Swarbrick staged a recovery of sorts, Swarbrick looking back in touch as he stroked the first boundary of the day. The running between the two batsmen did not exude the same sort of confidence, as Swarbrick survived a terrible mix-up by the skin of his teeth on 9.
The mix-ups finally took their toll - Jannisar guided to gully and set off, Swarbrick responded before both stopped mid-pitch to leave Michael Wellings a golden opportunity to remove the professional. He duly took it, throwing down the stumps on the move to leave Jannisar stranded and Lancaster 20 for 3.
Danny Welbourne entered, and while his runs haven’t been the most aesthetically pleasing, they have been crucial throughout this season. His swashbuckling 18 on the unpredictable pitch pulled the hosts from ignominy as he and Swarbrick halted Barrow’s progress. After weathering the early storm, Swarbrick was guilty of letting his concentration slip as he poked at and edged an innocuous delivery from Reynolds, caught behind for 13.
The middle order salvaged the innings. Iain Burstow and Kieran Moffat dug deep after Welbourne’s bravado gave Wearing his second wicket of the day, bowled swinging across the line. Burstow played the anchor role while the younger Moffat gained confidence on the drive as his innings matured.
While their partnership was only 29 runs, they were worth double on what is now a tired Lune Road square. Burstow’s gritty 10 from 59 balls ended when he attempted a rare big shot off left-arm spinner Collins edging to first slip as the 40 over mark approached.
Moffat was joined by Simm who signalled his intent early with a scything blow over mid-wicket as both boosted the total towards the hundred mark. Simm’s 15 from 20 balls displayed the benefits and rotating the strike and pushing the fielders while Moffat offered a straight bat.
The captain’s innings ended with a top-edged reverse sweep, before Moffat’s brave 27 was came to an end with a top edged pull to square leg. Sam Moorby’s cameo 10 at least gave the hosts something to bowl at as Lancaster were dismissed for what appeared a below par 109.
It would prove to be more than enough. The sun emerged for the second innings, drying out the pitch and rendering run scoring difficult. The Barrow batsmen needed to apply themselves and make some ‘ugly runs’, but their gung-ho approach did not serve them well.
Liam Moffat and Jannisar were the beneficiaries as opener Sam Dutton flashed and nicked a wide Moffat delivery before number three Chris D’Leny edged the Lancaster professional to his bowling partner at gully who took the sharp chance.
A fired up Jannisar ripped out the league leader’s batting order, first making good ground to complete a caught and bowled chance off Nicky Burns who could do little with a ball that popped from a length, before sending Wellings on his way edging a fine, seaming delivery to a grateful Moorby behind.
14 for 4 became 20 for 5 to send Lancaster into raptures, Moffat tempting Dean Williams into another loose drive as Iain Burstow took the edge in front of his face at slip.
Young Greg Reynolds showed the application required for Barrow, slowing the Lancaster juggernaut with a gutsy 28 from 59 balls but it was an effort in vain with little support. Jannisar endured a frustrating few overs as three half chances went begging from his bowling, before his counterpart Adil Raza went the way of most of his teammates, edging to gully for 5.
Reynolds opened up as spinners Simm and Scott Sparks entered the attack, timing the ball well through the covers and sweeping hard. Simm’s change of ends brought the breakthrough as he all but ended the visitors chances, first claiming Rhys Studt spooning to Kieran Moffat at mid-on before castling Tom Milligan with a classic arm-ball the following delivery.
The final nail in the coffin came when Reynolds’ resistance ended top edging a pull from Simm to the sliding Danny Welbourne at mid-off. Jannisar returned and wrapped up the innings with the first ball of his new spell, Wearing clipping straight to square leg to give the professional his fifth and send Lancaster delirious as Barrow fell 51 runs short in only the 29th over.
The result providing a vital 15 points for the city side offering some breathing space between them and the chasing pack in the search for a Lancashire cup spot in 2014.