Lancaster hold nerve to see off Morecambe in semi-final
A powerful bowling performance helped Lancaster overcome Morecambe in a tight Readers Cup semi-final clash.
Regular wickets cost Morecambe as they were bowled out for 127 on a good Woodhill Lane pitch on Sunday and, despite a few wobbles, the Lune Road men deservedly came out on top by four wickets.
Josh Dixon had no hesitation in batting and had the returning veteran Mark Woodhead for company.
Both were kept quiet by Liam Moffat and Iain Perrieman in the opening exchanges as Dixon was scratchy while Woodhead briefly threatened taking 12 off an Abhimanyu Khod over.
The early scoreboard pressure told, however, when Charlie Swarbrick had Woodhead (20) caught at mid-off looking to break the deadlock at 32 for 1.
Khod came back from his early troubles to pin Dixon for 11 leaving Morecambe’s danger men Lewis Edge and pro Saeed Anwar Jnr at the crease.
Both batsmen looked to be milking ones with ease before a lapse from Anwar cost him his wicket as a mix up allowed Khod to pounce at short third man and leave his opposite number inches short of his ground.
Swarbrick’s canny knack of taking wickets bore more fruit when Edge played on to a wide slower ball leaving Lancaster in the box seat.
All-rounder Eddy Read batted in a controlled fashion milking the spin of Ben Simm but wickets continued to fall around him.
Ryan Pearson weathered the early pressure before slapping a Khod long hop straight to Liam Moffat and when Luke Pearson was adjudged lbw playing across the line to Simm, Morecambe were staring a low score in the face.
But the unorthodox Izhar Ullah frustrated the visitors finding runs in unusual areas while Read continued to work singles.
The pair manoeuvred their side past the hundred mark and seemed to have a handy launch but with pace off the ball, Read’s first real forceful shot saw his downfall as Khod pouched a skier at long off.
Moffat returned to pick up Jake Smith before Ullah suffered a similar fate overs later - Swarbrick this time faultless under a towering catch.
Swarbrick capped off a fine fielding performance with a bullet throw to see number 11 Irfan Qayyum run out.
The hosts chasing the game with just 128 to defend but Lancaster’s top order once again failed to fire.
Jamie Heywood nicked Qayyum behind early on before Read pinned Alex Metcalfe plumb in front shouldering arms to a straight ball at 17-2.
Morecambe had two open ends but Swarbrick and Khod shut the door on any potential collapse.
The pair steered the visitors past 50 before Ullah’s tricky medium pace made the breakthrough finding a gap in Swarbrick’s defences on 17.
Anwar’s left arm spin couldn’t pry Khod from the crease and once the experienced pro had bowled out runs were easier to come by.
A handy cameo 17 from Kieran Moffat maintained the momentum but Read returned to york the left-hander looking to advance.
With the run rate never an issue, Morecambe needed wickets and they got a vital break when Rajat Agarwal was run out by a Ryan Pearson direct hit at backward point.Wobbling at 82-5, Sam Moorby looked to the leg side to support Khod easing the pressure with a brace of swept boundaries.
The runs ticked down alongside the overs but with the target within 20 the odds in favour of the visitors shortened.
Khod fell eight short of his 50 looking to lift Ullah over the top but by then the target was in sight.
Luke Phillips gave Lancaster some jitters facing a string of dot balls but a timely four byes and a half batted hoick pushed his side over the line with an over to spare.
Lancaster winning by four wickets and setting up a likely home final on September 4.