Coleraine Second XI suffered a heart-wrenching one run defeat in the Qualifying Cup at Eglinton on Saturday.
Chasing a formidable 237 for victory, Coleraine showed superb spirit and fight – qualities not always on display with the bat this season – but failed at the last to secure a vaunted spot in the Qualifying 1 final against either Donemana or Bready.
In truth, it was Coleraine’s bowling that let them down, bowling without their usual flair and accuracy despite early conditions offering assistance. Kyle Martin proved to be the exception, causing Eglinton early strife in dismissing the dangerous opening pair of Lee Ritchie and Andy Miller – the former courtesy of a marvellous catch from Matthew Smyth, who dived full stretch to catch a ball that seemed destined to land safely.
The rest of the attack struggled to be so penetrative. When Andrew Douglas (1-32) dismissed Neil Stewart (5) Eglinton were 44-3 but Lamrock and Johnston used their experience to develop 101 for the fourth wicket. Johnston (62) in particular batted decisively while Lamrock enjoyed the odd fortuitous moment, as both posted fifties. Knox returned to dismiss Lamrock (65) as 145-3 soon became 188-7 as Kyle Martin (4-47) claimed a further two victims bowling alongside Matthew Smyth (1-36). Eglinton maintained their aggression however, scoring 77 off the final ten overs with Stewart (26), Bahli (21 n.o) and Logon (16) guiding the Villagers to a most defendable 236.
Matthew Douglas exemplified the ‘do-or-die’ attitude that team manager Nigel Barr spoke of during the interval by dominating the early overs. When he perished for 19 – flashing his blade one time too many – Peter Wallace then set about the bowling. Alongside Rory Knox, the duo put on 62 before Wallace was adjudged LBW while attempting to launch Bahli out of the park. Knox and Harper combined combatively in developing 40 runs but when Knox perished for 56, it was even-Stevens. Wilson Torrens (27) offered Steven Harper the appropriate guidance for his talent, the latter grinding out John Martin’s frugal spell to score his first fifty of the season while keeping the Bannsider’s in the hunt. When both fell in a single over, Coleraine required close to 7-an-over.
Matthew Smyth and Curtis Cooke (10) resurrected the situation before the latter was needlessly run out as the tension became palpable. Amidst the drama, Smyth ran intelligently and used his feet to straight drive Millar, providing further evidence of his immense ability. Coleraine needed 15 runs from 12 balls, 8 from 6, then 2 from 1 when Smyth creamed the final ball into the hands of Lee Ritchie at square leg.
Nigel Barr said after the game that it was the bowling that let them down. “It’s unfortunate that one of our better batting displays has coincided with our worst performance with the ball to date. If you look at the scorecards on both sides you’ll see that they bowled far more economically, and took more wickets than us,” he said.
Coleraine play host to the same opposition in an important league encounter on Sunday, with victory of the utmost importance if the side’s season is going to develop rather than subside.