It was a weekend to savour for Lancaster as all three departments fired to overcome fourth placed Barrow and notch up their second 15-point win of the season.
Rain during the week made the Lune Road wicket less than conducive to fluent strokeplay. Barrow skipper Daryl Wearing found the pitch to his liking early on, removing professional Michael Barry after inserting the hosts.
Danny Welbourne showed early promise back in more familiar surroundings as opener playing a pair of eye-catching straight drives to Graham Dawson half volleys.
Wearing proved too much to handle for the long-serving right-hander however, trapped leg before to a nip-backer for 16.
It looked like a familiar tale being retold for Lancaster when Dylan Conroy become Wearing’s third adjudged caught-behind after a sharp take from Tom Milligan with the score 30-3.
This season the batting line-up has been highly reliant on runs from professional Barry, as such, it was all the more refreshing for Lancaster to see their middle-order come good as Charlie Swarbrick and Alex Metcalfe shrugged off popping deliveries to put together a vital partnership in the middle overs.
Swarbrick fought through early struggles by taking the pitch out of the equation and riding his luck, while Metcalfe played the anchor role nurdling singles and holding up one end.
At drinks both batsmen had slowed Barrow’s progress as Swarbrick pounced on the occasional long hop and struck anything full straight and high.
After Wearing tried Kaustubh Pawar at the river end to no avail, he threw the ball to Greg Reynolds who struck with his second ball as Swarbrick’s luck finally ran out one short of a hard fought half-century skiing to Wearing at deep mid-on at 100-4.
With Swarbrick’s departure, Metcalfe took up the more aggressive role ably supported by teenage debutant Laurie Atkinson. There was to be no 50 however, as the left-hander ran himself out attempting a sharp second run for 38.
With the platform set and wickets in hand Lancaster had ample opportunity to throw the bat for the remaining overs.
Wickets fell readily however, with Ben Simm run out to an impressive direct hit and Lee Sparks caught at long-on following a flat six into the sightscreen.
Atkinson and Matthew Liver played enterprising cameos with the latter planting the left arm spin of Gary Collins onto the tarmac. Once again Lancaster couldn’t quite bat their 50 overs with Tom Whitehouse the last man to go bowled by Collins, what mattered more was the total of 168 was above-par on the tricky surface.
Barrow got off to a quick start in reply as Lancaster leaked boundaries with Liam Moffat coming in for some harsh treatment while struggling with the worn footmarks.
It was Liver who got the ball rolling for hosts when Reynolds clipped into the leg-side only for Atkinson to take a stunning right-handed grab just above the turf at mid-wicket.
Barrow consolidated through Dean Williams and pro Pawar with Barry replacing Moffat from the Atherton Road end. Despite the runs beginning to flow it was the combination of Liver and Atkinson that did it again as Pawar skied an attempted pull to square leg to depart for 40.
Lancaster exploited the open end, Michael Wellings gloved Barry to Swarbrick at second slip before Williams gave Liver his third chipping to Conroy at mid-on, 67-4.
Familiar problems crept back into the hosts’ game, however, with catches and half chances going begging from the bats of Chris D’Leny and Graham Dawson. Both Barrow left-handers held Lancaster at bay flashing hard at any hint of width and pushing quick singles.
With Liver tiring and the score passing the 100 mark, Simm took the ball himself. After a few loose deliveries, he found Dawson thrusting his pad into slider before finding the shoulder of D’Leny’s bat tearing out Barrow’s middle order in one fell swoop.
Seeing the ball turning encouraged Simm to bring Whitehouse into the game and Lancaster’s second off-spinner did not disappoint.
Toby Mowat came and went caught bat-pad while Lee Hogg made the same error of a number before him, thrusting his pad down the line trapped leg before for nought.
With Barrow’s chances fading fast their final hopes rest with Wearing but it would prove to be his opposite number who had the last laugh.
The burly Cumbrian couldn’t resist a tossed up Simm delivery, miscued a drive and was well taken by a running Conroy at cover.
Whitehouse had the honour of claiming the final wicket of Gary Collins missing a sweep in front of all three to hand Lancaster a convincing 30-run victory and 15 vital points.