Morecambe struggled to a losing draw at St Annes in the Northern Premier League on Saturday.
In a game reduced to 31 overs due to the wet weather, sub pro Qaiser Abbas took 4-41 as the hosts, bottom of the table at the start of the weekend, posted 128-7 batting first.
In reply, the defending champions collapsed and needed Jamie Cassidy and Jake Smith to block out a final-wicket stand to ensure all the points didn’t go St Annes’ way.
Traditionally a batsman’s paradise, this Vernon Road pitch didn’t resemble its predecessors as the wet weather took its toll.
Seeing there would be plenty of assistance for the bowlers, Morecambe skipper Josh Dixon put the hosts into bat on winning the toss.
Abbas opened up with Cumberland man Eddy Read as Luke Willis (14) and Gurman Baines (11) worked hard to punish any poor offerings early on.
It was the latter who departed first trapped in front by the guile of Abbas.
The visitors went on to take wickets at regular intervals, but St Annes professional Shadley Van Schalkwyk had other ideas making a breezy 25 before being bowled by Read.
Sticking with his two main bowling options Dixon felt in control of the game despite a few lusty lower order blows with St Annes restricted to 128-7.
What was to happen over the course of the next hour could not have been predicted as Morecambe’s batting alarmingly subsided.
Gareth Pedder (17) was his usual attacking self striking Matthew Grindley for a huge maximum early on.
However his demise brought about that of Lewis Smith (0) and this was soon followed by the wicket of Abbas.
St Annes had their tails up and when Van Schalkwyk got one to jag back sharply out of the footmarks to remove Dixon it looked for all the world as if the points were heading to the hosts.
Matthew Derham batted gamely as he top scored with 24, the St Annes resident having a lot to prove playing against his local club.
Nobody was able to provide adequate support at the other end however as wickets tumbled with both Read and Tommy Clough soon returning to the pavilion.
When Derham went it was left to Cassidy and Smith to grind the score to 90-9 for a bonus point to ensure a losing draw for the Woodhill Lane side.