Lancaster crash out of county cup on long awaited return

Lancaster's captain Ben Simm impressed with bat and ball at Little Lever.
Lancaster's captain Ben Simm impressed with bat and ball at Little Lever.

Lancaster couldn’t repeat their first win of the season on Saturday as they fell to an agonising five-run defeat away at Little Lever in the first round of the LCB Knockout the following day.

In their first appearance in the competition for a number of years, Lancaster started well, restricting the Bolton League side to 153 but their batting once again proved to be the stumbling block.

On winning the toss Ben Simm asked the hosts to bat and saw his left-arm pacemen Liam Moffat and Michael Barry make early inroads.

Barry scattered opener Harvey Wilson’s stumps before Moffat picked up the vital wicket of professional Kamran Younis for just five, as the hosts slipped to 19-2.

The pair of Simon Anderton and Anthony Hilton then countered with a fine partnership of 97 as Simm mixed up the attack with the returning Scott Sparks and Matthew Liver bowling their allotted nine overs without reward.

Little Lever had a solid base to launch towards 200 at 116-2, however Simm in tandem with Moffat checked the hosts progress as wickets began to tumble.

Anderton was finally removed by Moffat for 53 who then tore through the Little Lever middle order, while Simm used all his experience to sweep away the tail.

Moffat finished with an excellent 5-37 while Simm snared four later in the piece.

The total of 153 was by no means a mammoth one to chase but it looked a long way away when Barry was clean bowled for nought and Charlie Swarbrick played across a straight one for just six.

Jamie Heywood was in no mood to hang around, however, as he looked in excellent touch moving Lancaster to 67-2.

Heywood looked poised to guide Lancaster home until a wide delivery drew him into a loose drive which he edged behind for an impressive but unfulfilled 49.

At 67-2 Lancaster encountered a familiar failing, the middle order collapse, and slumped to 71-5.

It was left to the experienced pair of Simm and Luke Phillips to bring their side from the brink by ticking the scoreboard over.

It looked promising for the visitors as Phillips and Simm ticked the score past 100 and beyond.

From the seemingly unassailable 131-5 disaster struck. Phillips was first to go, chipping out to mid-off for an important 31 before Lee Sparks and Moffat departed soon after leaving Lancaster teetering at 147-8.

After a game-changing innings, Simm had a rush of blood and tried to kill the game with one blow, it was a fatal decision as he couldn’t clear long-off, 147-9.

There was still hope with Scott Sparks and Liver at the crease, however the former was adjudged leg before to give Anderton his third scalp and knock Lancaster out of the competition.